Growing popularity of log-burning stoves fuels rise in timber thefts
Foresters and conservation workers say they have seen thefts of timber grow as families faced with soaring oil, gas and electricity prices try to find alternative fuel sources.
Wally Grice, a forester for the Forestry Commission based at Market Rasen, Lincs, said: “I have seen a steady increase of thefts over the last five years and believe it is due to the increased popularity of wood-burning stoves.
“We are coming across more incidents of people illegally taking timber from the woodland floor at woods across the county, as well as from stacks of felled timber awaiting transportation to auction.
“We have caught people red-handed using chainsaws to break up timber to take away.”
The thefts are having a knock-on effect because in many instances they rob conservation groups of vital income.
“We lose out . . . because we sell parcels of felled trees at auction, which bring in around £60,000 per year,” said Mr Grice.
“Many people think they can just help themselves without realising it is an offence and that their actions are having a direct action on the conservation work we can afford to do.”
Steven Donagain, project director of Hill Holt Wood in Norton Disney, near Lincoln, added: “We have had a number of thefts — the last one cost us about £1,000.”
Forestry workers are now painting white stripes on timber awaiting collection for auction and putting metal barriers around wood stacks to deter thieves.
A spokesman for Lincolnshire Police said: “Anyone stealing timber from roadsides or woodland should remember it is theft and that they can potentially be arrested and taken to court for it.”