Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement investigators arrested James Michael “Mike” Bennett of Cleveland, Texas for Timber Purchase as a Trustee with Intent to Defraud on Feb. 13, 2020 in Montgomery County. Bennett, 55, was charged with a state jail felony as the timber was valued between $500 and $20,000.
“Timber theft is more common than most people realize and most cases begin with an agreed upon contract. Victims deserve to be made whole and as a department, we seek justice for these individuals,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigator David Colton.
To prevent timber theft, landowners should:
- Visit their property frequently.
- Have someone they know and trust report any cutting on their land immediately.
- Never sign a contract without checking several references of the buyer.
- For the best price, insist on getting bids for their timber.
- Mark all property lines to assure cutting on adjacent property does not encroach on theirs.
- Utilize trail/deer cameras on their property that can record suspicious activity or individuals.
- Always hold their timber contractor to the agreed upon terms.
Landowners who are unfamiliar with selling their timber are urged to contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office. Agency field staff assists landowners with the process of securing the services of a professional resource manager to help select trees for harvest, estimate values and find potential buyers.
To report suspected timber theft or suspicious activity, call the Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement timber theft hotline at 1-800-364-3470.
Visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/lawenforcement/reporttimbertheft/ for more information.
The Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement department works diligently with local officials to help bring those responsible for timber theft and other violations of the natural resource code to justice.