Vietnamese workers suspected of stealing wood from Taiwan forest

Inspectors looking into involvement by larger gang

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Police found stolen wood in the trunk of a cab in Nantou County.

Police found stolen wood in the trunk of a cab in Nantou County. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A taxi driver and two Vietnamese migrant workers were arrested for stealing wood from a national forest, reports said Tuesday (September 24).

This was the second such case in two months in the Wujie area of Nantou County, but the latest incident was unprecedented because the suspects used a cab to transport their loot, the Central News Agency reported.

Forestry Bureau inspectors based in Puli reportedly saw suspicious individuals and vehicles frequenting backroads through the forest. Monday (September 23) afternoon, they alerted police officers, who helped them stop a taxi carrying two Vietnamese passengers.

In the trunk, they found 11 cypress burls and two other chunks of wood weighing a total of 56.46 kilograms, for a total market value of NT$200,000 (US$6,400), CNA reported.

The taxi driver denied involvement in the theft, but the two Vietnamese admitted they had taken the wood. Inspectors suspected that a larger ring of ‘mountain mice’ or ‘mountain rats,’ as wood thieves are popularly known, was behind the incident.

After the previous theft in the Wujie area, police also arrested foreign workers, CNA reported.