Suspected Timber Trespass and Theft

If you're a landowner who suspects timber trespass or timber theft, read the information below and contact your local VDOF office. Contact information for every office can be found on our contact page.

  1. As of July 1, 2019, VDOF is authorized to investigate suspected cases of timber theft. VDOF will also provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies and the Commonwealth Attorney's office.
  2. Timber theft may or may not involve trespass. In non-trespass cases, a landowner has agreed to sell their timber but they do not receive full payment. These type of cases are addressed by new additions to the Code of Virginia summarized below.
  3. Under the Code of Virginia, in the case of timber theft or trespass, a landowner can be compensated for up to three times the value of the standing timber,
    reimbursement of their reforestation costs, and compensation for their costs in determining the timber value as well as their legal costs.
  4. The law requires:
    • Payment in full as specified in the written timber sales contract or within 60 days from the date the buyer removes the timber from the property if no written contract is in place.
    • Failure to make payment in full based on the timelines in the previous bullet point shall constitute timber theft and is a class 1 misdemeanor. If this happens, the penalty will be three times the value of the timber removed, plus any penalty imposed by the court.
    • When a landowner sells timber by load (pay as cut) and the load is measured by weight, cord or board foot measure, the buyer must supply, upon request from the landowner, within 30 days of the request or 30 days from the date that the timber is removed, whichever is later, a true and accurate accounting of each load removed from the property related to the sale.
      • This can be load tickets or settlement statements provided to the timber buyer by the facility receiving, weighing, scaling or measuring the trees, timber or wood, and shall contain, at a minimum, (i) the name of the facility receiving, weighing, scaling or measuring the trees, timber or wood; (ii) the date the trees, timber or wood was received at the facility; (iii) the name of the producer or logging company; (iv) the type of wood; (v) the type of product; (vi) the weight or scale information, including the total volume if the load is measured by scale, or the gross and tare, or net weights, if the load is measured by weight; and (vii) the weight, scale or amount of wood deducted and the deduction classification.
      • No load ticket or settlement report shall be required to include price or market value information unless the timber sales agreement, whether written or oral, stipulates that the landowner is to be paid based on a share of the value of the timber removed.
  5. If you believe that timber theft has occurred, contact your local VDOF office. A VDOF forester can help provide the necessary information below:
    1. determine who cut the trees and notify them of the suspected trespass
    2. hire a consulting forester to determine the value of the lost timber (VDOF will provide a list of area consulting foresters)
    3. hire a surveyor to locate the property line if it is in question (not required in all cases)
    4. contact local law enforcement or the Commonwealth Attorney.
  6. If VDOF has not received notification of the timber harvest, VDOF will investigate to enforce the silvicultural water quality law and enforce the requirement for timber harvest notification.
  7. After VDOF inspects the site and identifies the parties involved in the harvest, VDOF will inform the landowner of record and adjoining owners where timber trespass is suspected.
The full details of Virginia's timber theft and trespass laws can be found on Virginia's Legislative Information System website.

Last modified: Wednesday, 22-Apr-2020 09:11:09 EDT