Theft of Timber

Theft of Timber

The offence of theft of timber is outlined in section 339(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of theft of timber when they:

  • take, hold, keep, conceal, receive, appropriate, purchase, or sell any lumber or lumber equipment found near or in any Canadian rivers, streams, lakes, or coastal waters;
  • when they remove alter, obliterate, or deface a mark or number on such lumber or lumbering equipment; or
  • where they refuse to deliver such lumber or lumbering equipment to its owner.

For a definition of ‘lumber and lumbering equipment’ click here or visit our definitions page.


Person A spots a neatly wrapped stack of sawlogs adrift in a lake and decides to take it out of the water, load it onto their truck, and take it home to use as firewood.

Person B finds an unattended pile of timber stacked ashore next to a lake with markings on them clearly indicating they belong to person C, who person B knows well. Person B, however, decides to keep the timber for themselves.


Offence Specific Defence(s)

Not Lumber or Lumbering Equipment

Where the person takes, holds, keeps, conceals, receives, appropriates, purchases, or sells something that is not lumber or lumber equipment, they have not completed the offence of theft of timber.

Colour of Right

Colour of right refers to a person’s legal right to something. If a person owns a piece of lumber, they have colour of right in that lumber.

Lack of Intent

Where the person lacks the intention to steal, they may not have completed the offence of theft of timber.

For example, if lumber that person A is transporting by stream happens to wash ashore onto person B’s land without person B’s knowledge, person B may not have completed the offence of theft of timber.

No Clear Owner

Where it is not clear who the owner of the found lumber or lumber equipment is, a person who does not deliver this lumber or lumber equipment to its owner may not have completed the offence of theft of timber.