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Barn wood missing? Kentucky thieves are making the most of an interior design trend.

Weathered barn wood shelters a Madison County mill that was built in 1865 and went out of business in the 1930s. It has sat vacant since then with most of the steam-powered mill’s equipment intact.
Weathered barn wood shelters a Madison County mill that was built in 1865 and went out of business in the 1930s. It has sat vacant since then with most of the steam-powered mill’s equipment intact. Herald-Leader

Thanks in part to farmhouse style icons Chip and Joanna Gaines, reclaimed wood is hot in interior design right now.

Sometimes, it’s hot in more than one sense of the word.

Over the past several years, police have seen an uptick in barns being hit by thieves who strip them of wood and sometimes metal roofing.

While the problem isn’t unique to Kentucky, the state does have more barns per square mile than any other, making opportunities plentiful for people who see a market for weathered boards.

In an attempt to keep its purchases on the up and up, Lexington-based Old World Timber has begun asking wood sellers to complete W-9s, which are tax documents for independent contractors, the Courier-Journal reported.

Barn wood can go for up to $2 per board foot wholesale, according to the newspaper.

In October, two Grayson County men were arrested after a farmer’s son caught them pulling wood off his family’s barn in Clarkson, Leitchfield radio station K105 reported. They had already taken lumber valued at $5,000 to $8,000 off the barn, the station said.

And last summer, Logan County sheriff’s deputies tracked down and arrested two men who had tried unsuccessfully to sell wood that had been stolen from a barn in Todd County, the News-Democrat & Leader reported.

But often, according to the Courier-Journal, law enforcement has a hard time solving barn wood theft cases, because barns that are hit might be on seldom-traveled roads and are often infrequently visited by those who own them, which can make it difficult to find witnesses and pin down a time frame for the theft.

Reclaimed wood has become a popular material for everything from floor and wall coverings to furniture and other home furnishings.

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Karla Ward is a native of Logan County who has worked as a reporter at the Herald-Leader for 18 years. She covers breaking news.


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