Most timber theft cases in East Texas start out as legitimate deals between landowners and loggers.
Kevin Pierce, Texas Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigator, said, "They enter into a contract agreement with a logger to have their timber cut. The logger ends up not paying the landowner their money."
Texas law says the logger has 45 days from the day they haul off the last load of timber to pay up. If they still owe $500 or more after 45 days, that's timber theft. But greedy loggers are also stealing by crossing property lines. Investigators sometimes set up surveillance to catch timber thieves in the act.
"A landowner sells their timber and the loggers are cutting their timber, and as they're about to finish up, they may not have enough timber to finish out loading their truck, so they'll cross over the property boundary onto the property of another landowner and cut enough timber to finish out a load."
One of the cases pierce is investigating is a location just off Roach Road in Trinity County. The logger was supposed to pay the landowner on a weekly basis, but when the logger fell behind on his payments, the landowner called authorities.