Thuringia: Frequent wood thieves in the Thuringian state forest on the go

Firewood as booty: The current energy crisis is apparently increasingly encouraging thieves to forays into the woods.

Thuringia: Frequent wood thieves in the Thuringian state forest on the go

Firewood as booty: The current energy crisis is apparently increasingly encouraging thieves to forays into the woods. But the demand for firewood has also increased legally - as have the prices.

Erfurt (dpa/th) - Thief tours in the forests have increased in Thuringia in view of rising energy prices. According to estimates by the state forest institute, around 1,200 cubic meters of wood have been stolen from the state forest so far this year. In previous years, however, it was only a few hundred cubic meters. Most recently, according to the information, a larger amount of wood was stolen in July in eastern Thuringia, 200 cubic meters disappeared. Despite the number of unreported cases, according to ThüringenForst, the wood theft has not yet taken on worrying proportions.

Forest owners' associations estimate that the financial damage caused by wood theft runs into the millions nationwide. In Thuringia, wood worth around 8,000 to 10,000 euros has been stolen from the state forest in recent years. With a planned harvest volume of 1.2 million cubic meters of wood, the theft rate of less than 0.01 percent has not been economically significant so far, said the spokesman for ThüringenForst, Horst Sproßmann.

The state forest institute - like many other state forest companies - has been using so-called forest trackers to monitor the felled wood since 2014. Since then, the amount of timber stolen from ThüringenForst has more than halved, Sproßmann said. A satellite-based, battery-powered GPS transmitter the size of a cigarette pack is hidden in a pile of wood.

If the trunk is shaken or moved, the transmitter switches on automatically and sends a signal to the smartphone of the local district forester. The GPS signal can also be tracked abroad for days and weeks, Sproßmann said. In addition to the professional theft of wood from higher-priced ranges, in which whole truckloads are stolen, there are also "trunk wood thefts". Private individuals stole small amounts of firewood in the trunk of their vehicle.

Sproßmann pointed out that buyers of stolen wood are also liable to prosecution for receiving stolen goods and tax evasion. The advancing digitization is also making the path of the wood from the tree to the processor more and more transparent for sellers and buyers. This is another reason why irregularities were noticed more and more quickly.

Firewood can be purchased legally from the State Forestry Agency. The demand - also for energy wood for industrial purposes - had already risen sharply in the past year and is not abating, said Sproßmann. Firewood prices have also risen compared to last year and will continue to rise in autumn and winter.

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