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Criminal Resource Manual

1303. Definitions -- "Motor Vehicle" -- "Aircraft" -- "Security"

The terms "motor vehicle" and "aircraft" are defined in 18 U.S.C. §  2311. Motor vehicle includes road vehicles, such as automobiles, vans, motorcycles, and trucks, as well as off-road vehicles such as self-propelled construction and farming equipment. See United States v. Straughan, 453 F.2d 422 (8th Cir. 1972); United States v. McGlamory, 441 F.2d 130 (5th Cir . 1971). Accordingly, the definition of motor vehicle is broader for 18 U.S.C. § § 2312 and 2313 then it is for 18 U.S.C. §  511, 512, 553, and 2321. In the latter four sections the term covers only road vehicles, that is motor vehicles as defined in 49 U.S.C. § 32101(7). The absence of a key part, e.g., the motor, does not mean that the vehicle ceases to be a motor vehicle. See United States v. McKlemurry, 461 F.2d 651 (5th Cir. 1972). Vehicles rebuilt by combining major parts of stolen motor vehicles with parts of other vehicles have been held to constitute a stolen motor vehicle. See United States v. Neville, 516 F.2d 1302 (8th Cir. 1975).

While a trailer is not a motor vehicle under 18 U.S.C. § 2312 or 2313 since it is not self-propelled, a trailer is "goods, wares or merchandise" under 18 U.S.C. § 2314 and 2315. See United States v. Kidding, 560 F.2d 1303 (7th Cir. 1977). A trailer is, however, a "motor vehicle" for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § § 511, 512, 553, and 2321. See 18 U.S.C. § 511 (c)(2) and 49 U.S.C. § 32101(7). If a stolen motor vehicle was "chopped" into its key parts and some of the stolen parts (e.g., doors, fenders, engine, front-end assembly, etc.) were subsequently transported in interstate or foreign commerce, there would be no violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2312 or 2313, but there may be a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 or 2315 if the stolen parts had a value of $5,000 or more. Shipments of such stolen parts which have a sufficient relationship may be aggregated to reach the $5,000 amount. See this Manual at 1316. The removal or falsification of an identification number of a road motor vehicle or road motor vehicle component may violate 18 U.S.C. § 511, and trafficking in such road vehicles or components may violate 18 U.S.C. § 2321. See this Manual at 1359 et seq.

A title for a motor vehicle is a security under 18 U.S.C. §  §  2314 and 2315. See this Manual at 1313. A title for a motor vehicle is also a security under 18 U.S.C. § 513 as a motor vehicle title is an instrument issued by a state evidencing ownership of goods, wares or merchandise. See 18 U.S.C. § 513(c)(3)(B); USAM 9-61.500.

[cited in USAM 9-61.100]