Cold winter sparks firewood thefts in Southland and Otago
Police have logged dozens of firewood thefts across Otago and Southland as a cold winter thaws into spring.
Thieves have also targeted firewood cutting equipment, including log splitters and chainsaws, with some commercial operators taking extra security measures to prevent further thefts.
The thefts come as commercial firewood prices reach more than $100 a cubic metre.
One Dunedin-based victim, who declined to be named, said he had almost five metres of bluegum/pine stolen from the back of a truck in June.
It would have taken several people around half an hour to remove the wood.
"It is hard work."
He had been selling firewood for the past decade and during that time had experienced several cases of people stealing wood.
That included a man spotted on his property loading his ute with firewood but "he took off when I approached him".
"Without cameras, it is just about impossible to prevent."
A Southern District police spokesman said police had recorded 35 separate complaints of the theft, or attempted theft, of firewood between March and September.
Victims faced "considerable losses" given the price of firewood.
Thefts were from homes, firewood yards and processing sites throughout Otago and Southland.
"Amounts of firewood stolen vary from a few armfuls to several cubic metres requiring a truck or trailer," the spokesman said.
"Offenders go to considerable lengths to enter enclosed premises and remove quantities of firewood."
He confirmed police had prosecuted a small number of people for firewood thefts and a number of investigations were ongoing.
Anyone with information to help police identify firewood thieves is asked to contact their local police station.