Recent changes in New York State Law extend timber theft to include all types of trees - not just Evergreens. Changes also require that officials investigate the theft.

Some details if you find timber theft occurring on your property:

  • Call the closest law enforcement agency:
    • DEC Law Enforcement, Environmental Conservation Officer or Ranger
    • State Police
    • County Sheriff
  • Ask the officer to impound the logs, and any skidders, trucks, and other equipment on the property at the time of discovery. Law enforcement personnel have the authority to impound such items when they have reasonable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.
  • Do not accept money from the logger. Any payments could be construed as damages for the loss or "mistake" (thereby negating further claims), and perhaps as sanctions for continued cutting.
  • While the logger is apologetically explaining his "mistake," have the law enforcement officer and/or other witnesses carefully note the logger's words. Later, he may deny any statements he made, and avoid conviction because you cannot prove his intent to be on your land.
  • Take pictures of the individuals involved, and any landings and equipment on the site, as well as write down license plate numbers and any brand names and models of equipment on the scene.
  • Ask the law enforcement agencies to report the incident to the DEC's Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigation so that the DEC can investigate the theft when warranted .

If you discover that a timber theft has occurred, after the loggers have left the property:

  • Immediately call the DEC's Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigation.
  • Explain who you are, what has occurred and where, and your best estimate as to when the theft occurred. Provide as much information as you can to the investigator; he will in turn interview you more fully to obtain details on all aspects of the theft, will speak with your neighbors and any other possible witnesses, and will ultimately confront the logger.
  • If it appears that a criminal case can be substantiated, DEC will ask the New York Attorney General to work with the Department to prosecute the logger. If it appears that only civil charges could be brought, DEC will share its findings with you, and you may then choose to sue the logger.
  • You should also file a complaint against the logger with New York's Attorney General.'s Office. While circumstances may not warrant immediate action, complaints may show a pattern of misconduct or deceptive business practices by an individual, and help support subsequent enforcement action.

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