Timber Theft Trend Spreading into Nebraska

An unusual Midwest crime trend has made its way to Nebraska and Iowa.

Thieves are stealing black walnut trees and selling them for profit.

Both private and public land is being targeted, especially in rural areas. Nebraska Game and Parks has caught poachers in the metro already.

“These thieves will go in at low light or at night, probably a truck and at trailer situation, and they may use electric chain saws to take down several logs and night and try to sneak out. And then they’ll go and sell fresh cut walnut trees to a local sawmill,” Greg Wagner with Nebraska Game and Parks said.

Wagner said the theft of black walnut trees is making its way across the Heartland.

“The black walnut theft problem has been widespread. It’s mostly been big in Indiana, Illinois, it’s been a big problem in Iowa of late, Missouri major problem. Now we’re seeing it move west and north and it’s a problem in Nebraska presently,” he said.

According to Wagner, poachers can get around $600 for a large piece of a walnut tree. After the wood has been cut and dried, it’s a rich, dark piece of wood that people want for furniture, flooring or cabinets.