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1316. National Stolen Property Act -- "Value" Defined

"Value" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2311 to mean "face, par, or market value, whichever is the greatest, and the aggregate value of all goods, wares, and merchandise, securities, and money referred to in a single indictment shall constitute the value thereof."

For purposes of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314 and 2315 the value of the stolen property which must be proven is at least $5,000, except for pledging under 18 U.S.C. § 2315 where the amount is only $500. The value of the stolen property is a jury question, see United States v. Williams, 657 F.2d 199 (8th Cir. 1981), and must be proven in terms of United States dollars. See United States v. Dior, 671 F.2d 351 (9th Cir. 1982).

The value of the different types of property may be proven in different ways. Market value is the means by which the value of most goods, wares, and merchandise will be established. This can be demonstrated by many methods. The value that the thief asks for the stolen goods and the value he actually sells them for can prove the value. See United States v. Wigerman, 549 F.2d 1192 (8th Cir. 1977). Of course, the basic rule of what a willing seller and a willing buyer will pay can also be used. Often times the thieves' market value can be used to show the value. See United States v. Jackson, 576 F.2d 749 (8th Cir. 1978); United States v. Moore, 571 F.2d 154 (3d Cir. 1978).

In addition to market value, the value of securities can be proven through the security's face value, see United States, v. Sarkisian, 545 F.2d 1237 (9th Cir. 1976), or its par value, United States v. Neary, 552 F.2d 1184 (7th Cir. 1977). Basically, the courts agree that any reasonable method of determining value is permissible. See United States v. Tauro, 362 F. Supp. 688 (W.D.Pa.), aff'd, 493 F.2d 1402 (3d Cir. 1973). If the goods were stolen from a retail merchant, the value is its retail value; while if stolen from a wholesale merchant the value is its wholesale value. See United States v. Robinson, 687 F.2d 359 (11th Cir. 1982). The value may be determined at the time of theft or its transportation for prosecutions under 18 U.S.C. § 2314, United States v. McMahan, 548 F.2d 712 (7th Cir. 1977), and at time of theft or at anytime during its receipt, possession, concealment, or disposition under 18 U.S.C. § 2315. See United States v. Luckey, 655 F.2d 203 (9th Cir. 1981); United States v. Reid, 586 F.2d 393 (5th Cir. 1978); United States v. McClain, 545 F.2d 988 (5th Cir. 1977).

Although the definition of value appears to permit the aggregation of the total amount in an indictment, it has been held that what is meant is that each count must allege the $5,000 threshold amount. See United States v. Markus, 721 F.2d 442 (3d Cir. 1983). Transactions involving less than $5,000 can be aggregated and combined into a single count if there is sufficient relationship between the transactions or they are part of a single plan or conspiracy. See Schaffer v. United States, 362 U.S. 511 (1960); United States v. Honey, 680 F.2d 1228 (8th Cir. 1982); United States v. Perry, 638 F.2d 862 (5th Cir. 1981). At times a thief or possessor of stolen property may do something to it to increase its value. The statutory amount requirement may be satisfied by the enhanced value provided such accretion does not alter or change the nature of the property but merely fulfills it. See United States v. Jones, 432 F. Supp. 801 (E.D.Pa. 1977), aff'd sub nom., United States v. Moore, 571 F.2d 154, (stolen blank ticketron tickets were subsequently imprinted with dates of performances and value).

[cited in Criminal Resource Manual 1303; USAM 9-61.200]

Updated June 8, 2015