Nor have the amounts or situations been trivial. One gentleman who made the timber theft honor list three times down in Louisiana obviously dealt only in six figures when he could swing it (no ax pun intended), although one of his thefts was only in the mid-five-figure range, which must have been embarrassing to a high roller like him.
And while I was wrong about volume of alerts, I wasn’t totally off about the news coverage. I did a little shoot-from-the-hip analysis of the stories, and I noted that almost all of them were carried by small local papers. An indictment for timber theft may not make the Cincinnati Enquirer or the Washington Post, but to my surprise they do sometimes strike a chord locally. I think the key is the word “indictment.” The possibility that someone may be sent up the river for their crimes seems to bring out the urge to venture into print, albeit locally.
In a few cases, the news found a wider audience. The Charleston Gazette, which I suspect is West Virginia’s largest newspaper, since it’s a good newspaper and Charleston is the state capitol, has a couple of times carried a small article on a theft there. And when a higher educational establishment in Texas issued a bulletin about increases in timber theft in Texas, it got pretty wide coverage in Texas. But I suspect that the Charleston situation got coverage because a public institution was a victim (the theft was from a Charleston city park) and the Texas one because a public institution was the issuer. Rarely does timber theft with an ordinary-citizen victim seem of interest beyond the local area, and if Eastern Kentucky is typical, usually not even there. Nor is a timber theft indictment a common occurrence in Kentucky. The usual response by the authorities to victims is “Go file a civil case.”
That lack of interest by Kentucky authorities was borne out by the observation that not one of the google alerts involved Kentucky. Since we are not short of timber theft incidents, that is a sad commentary for our state.