NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the price of timber continues to rise, individual species have attracted thieves to steal timber across the state.

A release from The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) stated forest landowners need to stay alert and protect their timber.

“Timber theft can be financially devastating to a landowner,” State Forester David Arnold said. “The value of the timber is not the only loss. In most cases, the thieves damage property and negatively impact conservation efforts and wildlife. We want Tennessee landowners to know what they can do to help protect their property against theft or accidental harvest.”

TDA officials recommend having well-marked property boundaries and a plan of action for property owners. Landowners without marked property lines could be unintentionally inviting thieves when surrounding land is harvested.

If you do not live on the property or plan to take a vacation, TDA recommends having a plan of action. This includes your name, best contact information and how to contact local law enforcement. This plan should be shared with neighbors so they can report any suspicious behavior.

“We’ve had reports of oak trees, poplar, and some hickory stolen in Middle and East Tennessee,” Agricultural Crime Unit Special Agent LaLonna Kuehn said. “One of the best ways to prevent this crime is to let your neighbors know if you will be removing timber from your property. If they haven’t heard from you and see harvesting, they should contact you or law enforcement immediately.”

Timber theft is a crime that can carry civil penalties of double or triple the current market value of the timber. If you are a victim of timber theft, report it to the Agricultural Crime Unit by clicking here.