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Victim's Guide to Timber Theft

Victim's Guide to Timber Theft

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Victim's Guide to Timber Theft

78 pages
54 minutes
May 9, 2020


The Victim’s Guide to Timber Theft provides comprehensive information about the magnitude of timber theft in this country, and its geographic breadth. It also talks about who is most likely to become a victim and the difficulties a private landowner victim will encounter when losing timber to theft, ranging from the methods timber thieves commonly use to hide their activity to the weakness of laws in this country.

The topics covered proceed from the methods of targeting victims mentioned above into criminal and civil recourse possibilities. It spends time on the obstacles both the thief and the law can put in a victim’s path and discusses the practical impact these have on property rights. It also discusses harassment of the victim by the thief, with examples of incidents

Considerable detail follows about the “gate fees” imposed by authorities along the path of justice, including surveys, professional timber consultant fees, witness fees, and legal fees.

It goes on to discuss the problem victims meet in obtaining accurate loss valuation, in simply finding an attorney for a civil case, in impediments to finding witnesses willing to testify, and in difficulties and interpretations that the victim may meet in court, It lays out some of the reasons why timber theft cases may drag on for ten or more years.

The Guide ends by summing up how these obstacles incentivize timber theft in this country, discusses the laws across states, and finishes by concluding that many of these obstacles cannot be removed until victims band together and the attitudes that prevail in this country about the problem of timber theft change.

May 9, 2020

À propos de l'auteur

Nina Cornett is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy – the highest position attainable in the Navy hierarchy by a non-political-appointee. During her tenure with the Navy, she was responsible for overseeing automation projects for US navy bases and, ships ,and managed a two-billion-dollar annual budget.In addition to the Victim's Guide to Timber Theft, she is the author of Alaskan Summer, a novel published in hardcover by Avalon books and in paperback by Dell publishing. She has also written magazine articles, and has researched and written scripts for her and her videographer husband Dean's documentaries. Those include American Chestnut, Sugar Cane, Sorghum, and Stir-offs, and Appalachian Chair Caning and Story Telling, which are currently airing on PBS stations. She is presently working on a memoir of the family dynamics around her mother’s death, tentatively titled Fault Lines and Fractures, and provisionally subtitled An Appalachian King Lear Without The Armies. She is in the beginning stages of development for a mystery set in Alaska.She became involved with timber theft when she and Dean discovered that they had lost more than 100 hardwoods on the family property to timber theft. Pursuing that theft led them through both a criminal and a civil court case. The theft was finally resolved after thirteen years of persistence by a judgment against the accused logger. During that thirteen years,she became an expert on timber theft, particularly timber taken from private landowners. That knowledge has been condensed into Victim's Guide to Timber Theft.Following the resolution of the theft, she was named to the State of Kentucky's Access to Justice Commission for a three-year term, now completed. She is also an officer on the Board of a non-profit corporation.In addition, in 2013, she and her husband were honored with the state of Kentucky's Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award for their environmental efforts in Kentucky, as well as their work in Alaska to save salmon, bears, and forests.You can find out more about the Cornetts at www.cornettmedia.com.

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Victim's Guide to Timber Theft - Nina Cornett




Nina Cornett

Copyright 2020 Nina Cornett

License Notes. Thank you for downloading this book. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you found this book useful, please encourage others to download their own copy from the favorite authorized retailer.



A. Victims, Losses, and Victimization Methods

1. Victims

2. Losses

3. Victimization Methods

B. Recourse

1. Criminal Law

2. State Civil Action

3. Federal Racketeering Statute

4. Lacey Act

C. Obstacles

1. Boundary dispute

2. You’re not from here.

3. Clogging the courts

4. Foot-dragging

D. Property rights

E. Get-Even/Strike First Warrant

1. The Keep off your own land tactic.

2. The Fake charge

3. Harassment without contact

4. Countersuit for Defamation Threat

F. The entry fee

1. Survey costs

2. Timber Appraisal

3. Witness Fees

4. Legal Fees

G. The Loss Valuation Problem

1. Clean Water Act limitation

2. Can’t count in court problem

3. Garage analogy

H. The Legal Aspect

1. Finding a lawyer

2. Dealing with legal tactics; evidence gathering, etc

3. Bar Association Futility

4. Rights in court.

5. Be the Criminal

I. Trial Issues:

1. Delays

2. Don’t get me involved.

3. Reluctance to testify

4. Let’s Settle It issue

J. Incentivizing the Thief:

1. R’s case

2. J’s situation

3. Undergoing chemotherapy

4. Nobody goes after the fence or the transporter

5. Bad Actor if pollute water, but not if steal.

K. What Other States Do

L. Where to From Here

Please Note: The information in this document is generally applicable across the country. However, when specific laws or practices are referred to, it is impractical to reference every state’s specifics, so Kentucky is generally the venue. Timber theft victims whose losses occur elsewhere should check their own laws with respect to statutes of limitations, felony theft thresholds, organizations of courts, practices of courts, and similar specifics.



Victims: A timber theft victim is potentially anyone who owns any timber, but especially hardwoods that are used in furniture and cabinet making. The victim doesn’t have to own a thousand acres, or a hundred acres, or even fifty acres. The owner of just one tree is a target, if that type of wood is in demand.

Absentee Landowners: While there’s no absolute pattern, there are some trends. Victims often tend to be absentee landowners -that is, they live away from their land. They may live in a town nearby, or in another state.

Elderly and/or Ill: Victims that live on their land may be too old or too sick to get around to all of it. One who lost 30 big oaks is legally blind, so there is no way he can monitor his timber. That is a problem especially in mountainous areas where the land tends to be fairly vertical, and where most people live in the valleys. Because of the land conformation and because nobody may live near, many elderly victims are out of earshot of logging noise, even if their hearing is still good.

Temporary Absentees: Even victims who live on their land, and would be able to hear loggers working when at home, can be away for a short time and lose timber. It doesn’t take months to get in, get trees, and get out. One victim tells of knowing there was logging on adjacent land, of showing the logger the boundary creek, of checking frequently to make sure that the logger stayed on his side of the creek, and then of going away for two days, only to return and find that his black walnut twelve feet across the creek into his land had been cut and taken away, and an effort made to conceal the removal.

Number of victims: Nobody knows. Statistics are hard to find, and there don’t appear to be any here in Kentucky. There is reason to suspect that most losses by small landowners are never even reported, which would skew any statistics that may exist in the direction of understating losses. Victims are identified, for the most part, by word of mouth. Victims have timber taken, and mention it. Word gets around, and other people mention their timber theft. Not a reliable method of gathering statistics, since one might learn about 1 in 100 victims that

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