Timber and tree theft most often happens in one of three ways
(1) Timber and tree thieves can set up a harvest directly on your property or will move over on you from an adjacent ownership, (2) timber and tree thieves will offer absurdly low prices for timber knowing that the landowner has no idea of the value, (3) and timber and tree thieves can actually steal trees after you have approved and allowed the harvest.
South Carolina and the Society of American Foresters have published a bullet list of do's/don'ts on timber theft. Hang around your forest or timber sale as much as possible, walk your lines periodically and look for the following -
Be suspicious if:
your logger is also hauling wood from adjacent timber tracts.
logs and paperwood are mixed on the same truck.
cutter is hauling at odd times of the day, on Sundays, or at night.
boundary trees have been cut or removed.
you can't contact your wood buyer or he can't seem to get you a payment.
Avoid being ripped off by:
knowing the value of your timber.
knowing the amount of timber you are selling.
bidding all but the most marginal of sales.
checking the logger's reputation/previous work.
drawing up a contract.
marking the boundary of the sale and property lines.
finding a good forestry consultant who will help you with all the above.