ODNR Investigation Leads to Arrest for Timber Theft from State Forests

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Ross County resident was recently convicted and sentenced for stealing timber from Tar Hollow and Scioto Trail state forests and from several private properties in the area, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry and Division of Parks and Watercraft.

Robert Silcott of Londonderry was arrested after ODNR natural resource officers investigated a tip. Silcott later confessed and pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, two counts of vandalism, and one count of criminal mischief. He was sentenced in Ross County Court to 16 months in jail and ordered to pay $4,864 in restitution. Officers also seized equipment used during the thefts, including chainsaws, trailers, and winching equipment.

“These trees represented long-term investments the citizens have made in sustainable forest conservation and wildlife habitat,” said Dan Balser, chief of the Division of Forestry. “State Forests exist for the public good and should not be exploited by criminals. I hope this conviction will deter future timber theft in any of Ohio’s forests.”

ODNR personnel discovered thefts at Tar Hollow State Forest in December 2018. Additional thefts were discovered in Scioto Trail State Forest and private properties in the county over the next year. In all cases, the valuable bottom section of the tree was missing. ODNR foresters and natural resource officers analyzed the stumps to track down delivery locations and retrieved sales documents. The thefts totaled 10 trees with a standing timber value of nearly $4,000, mostly black walnut and white oak trees which are frequent targets of theft due to their high value.

Landowners with timber should take precautions to secure their property. Painting ownership boundaries and regularly inspecting your property are good practices. Reporting theft to local authorities immediately is also important.

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