Timber theft is taken very seriously in Louisiana. It is much more common than people think.
In some cases, theft can be as small as a single tree, but it is more common to involve theft of acres of timber. Financial loss can be anywhere from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. With thefts involving lumbermen and timber operations, the lost timber is most often well into five or even six figures.
At the Jones Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge of timber theft and can help you navigate your situation. In this blog, we will go over the types of theft that can occur, how common it is, and how to protect yourself to make it less likely to happen to you.
Three types of Timber Theft in Louisiana
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that 10% of all trees cut down annually are actually stolen.
While this is a big number, it isn’t all that surprising given that timber is the leading agricultural crop in Louisiana, leading to thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for the economy.
There are three types of timber theft that can occur:
- Intentional theft: A thief unlawfully enters the property in order to cut and steal logs or trees.
- Contract breach/ misunderstanding: A logger removes trees not included in the sale. This might occur when a “thin cut” is requested and the logger “clear cuts” instead.
- Boundary Crossing: A logger cuts trees from a neighboring property.
The first example is obviously one of bad faith. Intentional theft is a crime.
The second examples may be committed in bad faith, but are most often not intentional. Accidental timber theft might fall under what Louisiana calls “good faith.”
This is a very important distinction in civil court. Bad faith timber theft can result in recoupment of all costs and attorney’s fees, whereas good faith does not. It often becomes a timber theft lawyer’s job to discover, and then prove, bad faith when everything might appear as good faith.
Four Commons Ways to Help Reduce the Chances of Timber Theft
Timber is a valuable asset, so doing everything in your power to protect it from thieves or logging mistakes is essential.
There are four main ways to help reduce the cases of timber theft:
- Know the value of your timber.
- Have your boundary lines clearly marked. This can be done with fencing or paint.
- Visit the property. Annual or quarterly inspections are wise. If you are contracting to harvest timber, frequent site visits will ensure minimal chance of theft.
- Employ supervisors. You could hire a manager to oversee operations. More simply, stay in contact with neighbors who would notice and report unusual activity.
Reporting Timber Theft
If timber is stolen from your property in Louisiana, you will want to get in contact with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF). To report a timber theft, contact the LDAF office of Forestry at 225-925-4500.
It would also be beneficial to get in contact with a Louisiana timber theft lawyer as soon as possible. Our team at the Jones Law Firm can help you navigate timber theft in Louisiana. We can help you with the initial filing of a complaint with the LDAF and we can handle all matters of civil litigation.
Contact Jones Law Firm for Timber Theft Cases in Louisiana
Our timber theft attorneys at the Jones Law Firm want to help you with your timber theft case. Contact us today to schedule your first consultation.