US Attorneys > USAM > Title 9 > USAM Chapter 9-61.000
prev | next | Criminal Resource Manual

9-61.000
CRIMES INVOLVING PROPERTY

9-61.010 Introduction
9-61.100 Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—18 U.S.C. § § 2311-2313
9-61.111 Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Prosecution Policy
9-61.112 Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Prosecution Policy
9-61.113 Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Prosecution Policy
9-61.114 Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Notification Requirements
9-61.200 National Stolen Property Act—18 U.S.C. §  2311, 2314, and 2315
9-61.210 National Stolen Property Act—Prosecution Policy
9-61.244 National Stolen Property Act—Securities
9-61.300 Theft From Interstate Shipment—18 U.S.C. §  659
9-61.400 Fencing—Prosecution Policy
9-61.500 Counterfeiting and Forging of State and Corporate Securities—18 U.S.C. § 513
9-61.510 Counterfeiting and Forging Securities—Prosecution Policy
9-61.600 Bank Robbery and Bank Larceny—18 U.S.C. 2113
9-61.601 Bank Robbery—Disclosure of Information
9-61.610 Bank Robbery—Prosecution Policy
9-61.670 Bank Extortion—Charging Policy
9-61.700 Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Statutes
9-61.710 Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Offenses—Policy Considerations

9-61.010

Introduction

This chapter focuses on the law and policy relating to the investigation and prosecution of motor vehicle theft, stolen property offenses, thefts from interstate shipments, fencing, counterfeiting and forging of state and corporate securities, and bank robbery. The Criminal Division's Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO) has supervisory authority over all offenses in this chapter except bank robbery. The Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Criminal Division has supervisory authority over bank robbery.

[updated May 2012]

9-61.100

Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—18 U.S.C. § § 2311-2313

Title 18 U.S.C. § 2312 makes it an offense to transport in interstate or foreign commerce a motor vehicle or aircraft, knowing it to have been stolen. The receipt, possession, sale, or disposition of a motor vehicle or aircraft which crossed a state or United States boundary after being stolen, with knowledge of its stolen character is an offense punishable in 18 U.S.C. § 2313.

Federal criminal jurisdiction also extends to a variety of other motor vehicle theft related activities. These include altering, removing or obliterating motor vehicle identification numbers, (18 U.S.C. §  511), trafficking in motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts with altered, removed or obliterated identification numbers (18 U.S.C. §  2321); and the exportation or importation of stolen motor vehicles, off-highway equipment, vessels and aircraft (18 U.S.C. § 553). See USAM 9-61.700.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has investigatory responsibility for auto theft and aircraft theft-related offenses, including violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 511, 553, 2312, 2313, and 2321. The Office of Enforcement Operations in the Criminal Division has supervisory authority over Dyer Act violations.

For more information on this topic, see the Criminal Resource Manual

Legislative History Criminal Resource Manual at 1301
Definition of "Stolen" Criminal Resource Manual at 1302
Definitions—"Motor Vehicle"—"Aircraft"—"Security" Criminal Resource Manual at 1303
Elements of 18 U.S.C. § 2312 Criminal Resource Manual at 1304
Elements of 18 U.S.C. § 2313 Criminal Resource Manual at 1305
18 U.S.C. § § 2312 and 2313—Predicate Offenses for RICO Prosecution Criminal Resource Manual at 1306
18 U.S.C. § 2119— Carjacking Criminal Resource Manual at 1307
Venue Criminal Resource Manual at 1308
Use of 18 U.S.C. § 5001 to Surrender Motor Vehicle Theft Perpetrators Under 21 Years of Age to State Authorities Criminal Resource Manual at 1309
Additional Research Sources Criminal Resource Manual at 1310
[updated January 1998]

9-61.111

Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Prosecution Policy

Consistent with available resources, organized ring cases and multi-theft operations of motor vehicles involving an interstate or foreign aspect should be Federally investigated and prosecuted. To the extent possible, the investigation and prosecution of this type of professional criminal activity should be conducted in coordination and cooperation with State and local authorities. If the State or local authorities are unable to prosecute the jointly investigated cases, Federal prosecution should be undertaken insofar as is consistent with available resources.

[cited in USAM 9-61.710; Criminal Resource Manual 1312]

9-61.112

Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Prosecution Policy

Except as precluded by USAM 9-61.113, individual interstate and foreign motor vehicle theft cases involving exceptional circumstances may be considered for Federal prosecution if the local or State authorities are justifiably unable to institute a successful prosecution. Because of various other Federal prosecutive priorities, only a portion of the individual theft cases involving exceptional circumstances will qualify for Federal prosecution. In determining whether "exceptional circumstances" justifying Federal prosecution are present, the following examples may be considered illustrative but not exhaustive:

  1. The stolen vehicle is used in the commission of a separate felony for which punishment in the local courts would be expected to be less than for the Dyer Act offense;

  2. The stolen vehicle is demolished, sold, transported or exported to a foreign country, heavily stripped or grossly misused;

  3. An individual steals more than one vehicle in such a manner as to form a pattern of conduct; and

  4. The stolen vehicle is a heavy commercial vehicle or construction or farming equipment, such as a tractor truck, a farm tractor or a bulldozer.

In addition to the above exceptional circumstances, because of an aircraft's normally large monetary value and its ability to be used to commit other serious Federal criminal offenses, such as drug smuggling, each interstate or foreign transportation of a stolen aircraft should be judged for possible Federal prosecution based on its own individual prosecutive merits.

[cited in USAM 9-61.114]

9-61.113

Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Prosecution Policy

Except in situations where 18 U.S.C. § 5001 (surrender of youthful offenders to State authorities) is to be utilized or there are indications that organized ring activity may be involved, Federal process should not be filed against an individual, regardless of local prosecutive decisions, in the following instances where a stolen motor vehicle has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce:

  1. Cases involving joy-riding;

  2. Cases in which the individual to be charged is a juvenile (i.e., under 18 years of age); and

  3. Cases in which the individual to be charged is at least 18 but less than 21 years of age and cannot be defined as a recidivist. A "recidivist" for purposes of this policy is a person who has on at least two prior occasions been arrested for motor vehicle thefts and on one or more occasions has been convicted for motor vehicle theft or another criminal offense.

[cited in USAM 9-61.112; Criminal Resource Manual 1308]

9-61.114

Motor Vehicle and Aircraft Theft—Notification Requirements

When Federal prosecution is declined for an individual Dyer Act violation, the Assistant United States Attorney making such decision shall notify the investigative agency of such decision and the reasons therefor. The Assistant United States Attorney shall also advise the investigative agency if "exceptional circumstances" were present in the matter. See USAM 9-61.112. In addition, the Assistant United States Attorney shall remind the investigative agency of the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 5001, if such may be applicable. The Assistant United States Attorney shall request the investigating agency to notify the appropriate local authorities, including the appropriate local prosecutive office where a prosecutable case may be present, of his or her prosecutive determination, and shall request, in those situations involving exceptional circumstances, to be notified by the investigative agency as to what prosecutive action is being undertaken by the local authorities. If the local authorities do not prosecute a matter involving exceptional circumstances, the investigative agency shall so notify the Federal prosecutor. Upon receipt of such notification the United States Attorney should review the matter in accordance with these guidelines, the present caseload of his or her office, the availability of witnesses and the sufficiency of the evidence, and the agreements and understandings reached as a result of the Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee for his or her District to determine whether Federal prosecution is warranted.

[cited in USAM 9-61.710]

9-61.200

National Stolen Property Act—18 U.S.C. §  2311, 2314, and 2315

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has investigative jurisdiction for the stolen property offenses set forth in 18 U.S.C. §§  2311, 2314 and 2315. The Office of Enforcement Operations of the Criminal Division has supervisory responsibility over offenses arising under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314 and 2315.

See the Criminal Resource Manual for a discussion of the following issues regarding the National Stolen Property Act

General Overview Criminal Resource Manual at 1311
Goods, Wares, Merchandise Criminal Resource Manual at 1312
Securities Criminal Resource Manual at 1313
Money and Wire Transfers Criminal Resource Manual at 1314
"Tax Stamp" Defined Criminal Resource Manual at 1315
"Value" Defined Criminal Resource Manual at 1316
"Stolen"—"Converted"—"Taken by Fraud" Criminal Resource Manual at 1317
"Falsely Made, Forged, Altered, or Counterfeited" Criminal Resource Manual at 1318
"Forged Endorsement" Criminal Resource Manual at 1319
Tracing Doctrine Criminal Resource Manual at 1320
Exceptions and the Proviso Clause Criminal Resource Manual at 1321
Elements—First Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 Criminal Resource Manual at 1322
Elements—Second Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 Criminal Resource Manual at 1323
Elements—Third Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 Criminal Resource Manual at 1324
Elements—Fourth Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 Criminal Resource Manual at 1325
Elements—Fifth Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 Criminal Resource Manual at 1326
Elements—First Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2315 Criminal Resource Manual at 1327
Elements—Second Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2315 Criminal Resource Manual at 1328
Elements—Third Paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2315 Criminal Resource Manual at 1329
Venue Criminal Resource Manual at 1330
Additional Research Sources Criminal Resource Manual at 1331

9-61.210

National Stolen Property Act—Prosecution Policy

Prosecutions under the first two paragraphs of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 and the first paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2315 should be governed by the same factors that determine whether other non-governmental thefts or frauds (e.g., mail frauds or wire frauds) should be prosecuted Federally. See USAM 9-43.000 and 9-43.300. The $5,000 jurisdictional threshold figure, originally adopted in 1934, was selected to limit Federal involvement to significant cases. If the $5,000 figure had been indexed for inflation the comparable value in 1996 would be approximately $60,000. These figures are cited in order to provide a historical perspective for these sections. Of course, violations involving less than $60,000 should be prosecuted Federally where the situation warrants.

The monetary figures are more important when considering prosecution under the "falsely made, forged, altered and counterfeit" securities provisions of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314 and 2315 which do not require any specific monetary amount to invoke Federal jurisdiction. However, prosecutive judgments under all provisions of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314 and 2315 should be balanced. Although the "forgery" provisions permit Federal jurisdiction for one forged security, prosecutive discretion should be exercised in favor of those instances where there is some compelling reason to bring the matter in Federal courts. Hence, with regard to forged, falsely made, altered, or counterfeited securities under 18 U.S.C. § 2314 or § 2315, the Department's position is that such offenses are primarily within the purview of State law and should be prosecuted by State authorities where feasible, even though the requisites of Federal jurisdiction under the Act are present. However, Federal prosecution is recommended where particularly appropriate, as where the broad scope of defendant's activities (e.g., interstate "paper hangers") suggests a need for Federal investigative facilities or appears to render inadequate the punishment brought in conjunction with other Federal charges, or where successful State prosecution appears unlikely or the State fails or refuses to entertain prosecution.

[cited in USAM 9-61.510]

9-61.244

National Stolen Property Act—Securities

The Department takes the position that a stolen or fraudulently obtained credit card is not a security within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2311, 2314, or 2315. See the Criminal Resource Manual at 1313 for a more detailed discussion of "securities."

9-61.300

Theft From Interstate Shipment—18 U.S.C. §  659

Thefts from interstate shipment should be prosecuted under Federal laws where: (1) there is difficulty in establishing venue for State prosecution; (2) the thefts are systematic or widespread; (3) another related Federal offense is charged against the defendant; or (4) Federal prosecution would be advantageous to the administration of justice, such as in the detection, prevention, or prosecution of crimes generally. Major theft cases and cases involving repeat offenders should be given priority attention under 18 U.S.C. § 659. Since theft from interstate shipment is a concurrent jurisdiction offense, prosecutive agreements with State and local law enforcement authorities are appropriate. See also the Criminal Resource Manual at 1332.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has investigative jurisdiction for offenses committed in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 659. The Office of Enforcement Operations of the Criminal Division has supervisory authority over offenses committed in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 659.

See the Criminal Resource Manual for a discussion of the following issues regarding 18 U.S.C. § 659

General Overview Criminal Resource Manual at 1333
State Prosecution a Bar Criminal Resource Manual at 1334
Interstate or Foreign Commerce Aspect of Shipment Criminal Resource Manual at 1335
Retention of Stolen Character Criminal Resource Manual at 1336
Venue Criminal Resource Manual at 1337
Evidence of Proof of Shipment Criminal Resource Manual at 1338
Evidence of Proof of Value Criminal Resource Manual at 1339
Drafting Indictments—Facility from Which the Goods Were Taken Criminal Resource Manual at 1340
Drafting Indictments—Election Required Between Theft and Possession Criminal Resource Manual at 1341
Additional Research Sources Criminal Resource Manual at 1342

9-61.400

Fencing—Prosecution Policy

Unless there exists a special need, priority should be given to the prosecution of fences as opposed to the prosecution of thieves. For purposes of this subchapter, "fences" are defined as those who are alleged to have assisted in finding or dealing with more than one buyer for stolen property. Highest priority should be given to the prosecution of fences who operate legitimate businesses and sell stolen property to the public.

When preparing indictments against subjects involved in the redistribution of stolen property particular attention should be given to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §§ 659, 2312, 2313, 2314, 2315, 2321, and the RICO statute (18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq.) where the fence operates through a legitimate business.

For additional material concerning "fencing," see the following sections of the Criminal Resource Manual

Criminal Redistribution of Stolen Property—"Fencing" Criminal Resource Manual at 1343
Drafting Indictments— Fencing Criminal Resource Manual at 1344
Fencing Investigations Criminal Resource Manual at 1345

9-61.500

Counterfeiting and Forging of State and Corporate Securities—18 U.S.C. § 513

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has investigative jurisdiction over offenses committed in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 513. The Fraud Section of the Criminal Division has supervisory authority over offenses arising under 18 U.S.C. § 513.

The following sections of the Criminal Resource Manual contain discussions relating to 18 U.S.C. § 513

General Overview Criminal Resource Manual at 1346
Discussion of the Offenses Criminal Resource Manual at 1347
Relevant Definitions Criminal Resource Manual at 1348
[revised August 2012] [cited in Criminal Resource Manual 1303; 1311; 1328]

9-61.510

Counterfeiting and Forging Securities—Prosecution Policy

Since 18 U.S.C. § 513 considerably expands Federal criminal jurisdiction over non-Federal securities that are counterfeited and forged, its constitutional basis may be challenged. Accordingly, for constitutional and policy reasons, several factors should be present before Federal jurisdiction is exercised under this provision.

First, the extent of the criminal activity should be sizeable and involve significant past or future interstate activity. Second, in regard to the counterfeiting of State securities, there should clearly be an interstate aspect. Third, common sense must be used, not only to sustain the constitutionality of this important provision, but also to control the number of cases filed in Federal courts. The general prosecution policies set forth in USAM 9-61.210 relating to cases under the National Stolen Property Act should be applied to 18 U.S.C. § 513 offenses. Finally, as to the "implement" provision in subsection 513(b), such implements should bear some connection to State or corporate securities.

In short, the major responsibility for dealing with counterfeit and forged State and corporate securities should lie with State and local governments. In utilizing 18 U.S.C. § 513, the Federal government will be in the best position to defend against constitutional challenges if the statute is applied only to fact patterns clearly showing large-scale organized interstate criminal activity. In addition, each United States Attorney should develop prosecutive understandings concerning the counterfeiting and forgery of State and corporate securities with State and local authorities through the district's Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee.

9-61.600

Bank Robbery and Bank Larceny—18 U.S.C. 2113

Title 18, section 2113 of the United States Code is the Federal criminal bank robbery statute. Section 2113 outlines and defines prohibited criminal conduct vis-a-vis federally protected financial institutions and concomitant penalties.

Investigative jurisdiction for bank robbery is vested in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Gang Unit has supervisory responsibility over violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2113.

The following sections of the Criminal Resource Manual contain material related to Bank Robbery and Bank Larceny

Bank Robbery—General Overview Criminal Resource Manual at 1349
Bank Theft— Misrepresentations of Identity Criminal Resource Manual at 1350
Assault/Use of Dangerous Weapon During Bank Robbery Criminal Resource Manual at 1351
Federally Insured Financial Institutions Criminal Resource Manual at 1352
Merger and Separate Offenses Criminal Resource Manual at 1353
Merger Criminal Resource Manual at 1354
Possession Offenses Criminal Resource Manual at 1355
Bank Messenger—Armored Truck Services Criminal Resource Manual at 1356
Night Depositories Criminal Resource Manual at 1357
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) Criminal Resource Manual at 1358
[updated January 2009] [cited in Criminal Resource Manual 1455]

9-61.601

Bank Robbery—Disclosure of Information

Department of Justice personnel should not release information concerning amounts of monies taken in any bank robbery until it becomes a matter of public record by virtue of the return of an indictment or other charging document. See media guidelines in USAM 1-7.000 et seq., 28 CFR § 50.2.

9-61.610

Bank Robbery—Prosecution Policy

United States Attorneys and the Special Agent-In-Charge (SAC) of the local field division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should meet with their State and local counterparts to arrive at a proper allocation of investigative and prosecutive resources for bank robberies being committed in their respective districts. It continues to be Department policy to reduce Federal involvement in the bank robbery area, and make deliberate progress toward maximum feasible deferral of bank robbery matters to those State and local law enforcement agencies which are prepared to handle them. However, no case should be deferred in favor of State/local investigation or prosecution where the state/local law enforcement authorities will not adequately handle it.

9-61.670

Bank Extortion—Charging Policy

The first paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) makes criminal the obtaining or attempting to obtain bank property by extortion. The typical bank extortion arises where, by telephone call or other communication, an extortionist conveys a threat to a bank official, and instructs the bank official to deliver bank funds to a specified "drop site," away from bank premises. Thus, many extortions involve no face to face confrontation. Because the bank robbery statute includes extortion and attempted extortion, the Hobbs Act should not be charged in such cases.

9-61.700

Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Statutes

The Office of Enforcement Operations of the Criminal Division has supervisory responsibility for motor vehicle theft and theft prevention related offenses, including violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 511, 511A, 553, 2321 and 2322. For information on investigative jurisdiction, see the Criminal Resource Manual at 1360.

The following sections of the Criminal Resource Manual contian discussions of matters related to Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Statutes—General Overview Criminal Resource Manual at 1359
Mandatory Theft Prevention Standard Criminal Resource Manual at 1361
Voluntary Theft Prevention Standard Criminal Resource Manual at 1362
Anti-Fencing Measures Criminal Resource Manual at 1363
Altering or Removing Motor Vehicle Identification Numbers Criminal Resource Manual at 1364
Forfeiture of Certain Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Parts Criminal Resource Manual at 1365
Trafficking in Certain Motor Vehicles or Motor Vehicle Parts Criminal Resource Manual at 1366
Motor Vehicle Titles as "Securities" Criminal Resource Manual at 1367
Sale or Receipt of Stolen Motor Vehicles Criminal Resource Manual at 1368
Chop Shops Criminal Resource Manual at 1369
Theft Prevention Decals Criminal Resource Manual at 1370
Importing and Exporting Stolen Property Criminal Resource Manual at 1371
Importing or Exporting Stolen Motor Vehicles, Off-Highway Mobile Equipment, Vessels, or Aircraft Criminal Resource Manual at 1372
Unlawful Importing or Exporting of Certain Vehicles and Equipment Criminal Resource Manual at 1373
Effective Date - Motor Vehicle Identification Numbers Criminal Resource Manual at 1374
Proving Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 511 Criminal Resource Manual at 1375
Proving Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2321 Criminal Resource Manual at 1376
Proving Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 553 Criminal Resource Manual at 1377
[cited in USAM 9-61.100]

9-61.710

Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Offenses—Policy Considerations

Criminal offenses relating to altering, removing, or obliterating motor vehicle identification numbers, trafficking in motor vehicles or in motor vehicle parts having altered, removed, or obliterated identification numbers, operating a chop shop, and exporting or importing stolen motor vehicles are governed generally by the Department's prosecutive policy under the Dyer Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 2311 to 2313). See USAM 9-61.111 through 9-61.114. Each United States Attorney should develop prosecutive understandings on these criminal offenses with State and local authorities through the district's Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee.