With firewood selling at between £100 and £200 a tonne and organistion which represents country landowners is warning that logs have become a valuable commodity – and a target for thieves.
“We are used to heating oil theft, now it seems that logs are being targeted,” says Tim Isaac, deputy director CLA East.
“Firewood has been rising in price for several years and the thieves are well aware of it. There is a tidy profit to be made, so householders need to make sure that they aren’t the losers.
“We are putting out the warning now because many people are starting to take delivery for the winter. Not so long ago a lorry load of logs could be tipped on the driveway or on the roadside to be stored away in a shed or beside the house at a later stage and they would be quite safe.
“Not now. Householders should be at home when the logs arrive and get them safely stored out of sight as soon as possible; or should choose suppliers who will unload and stack them where they will not be visible.
“That goes for the small bags of logs you buy at the petrol station or the DIY store, they are very easy to carry away and by no means cheap.”
The advice is not for customers alone. The CLA is warning its members who operate log businesses that they stand to lose considerable sums if they don’t take elementary precautions.
“It might be thought that a load of logs would not be easy to steal, be assured it is. Just as thieves are equipped to tap fuel tanks they are also equipped with the tackle and vehicles to take logs,” says Mr Isaac.
“If questioned they simply say that they are collecting up a load which has been delivered to the wrong address.
“Thieves are driving around the countryside looking for opportunities. Our members know better than to leave wood – whether as logs or larger timber – where it can be seen and taken.”
The CLA is also asking anyone who is offered logs, especially at a cheap rate, to check out where they have come from and to be cautious. “If the sellers appear dubious refuse to buy and report them and their vehicles to the police,” says Mr Isaac. “Be aware, you could be handling stolen goods.”