The property encompassed by 18 U.S.C. § 641 is also defined in broad terms. Section 641 protects "any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof."
Generally, jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 641 turns on the nature of the government's interest in the property which has been stolen. If that interest is sufficient, federal jurisdiction attaches; if it is not sufficient, the prosecution must be deferred to the state or local authorities. The question of whether the United States has sufficient interest in some property to trigger jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 641 arises in a wide variety of factual contexts. Some of the most common situations involving this issue are described below.