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Criminal Resource Manual

1332. Charging Theft From Interstate Shipment -- Dollar Thresholds, Local Efforts

The Criminal Division has no objection to a United States Attorney requiring the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to present only cases involving the theft of goods or chattels having more than a certain minimum value (e.g., $100 or $250), and cases involving less than such figure where unusual circumstances are present. The Department also encourages United States Attorneys to develop prosecutorial guidelines involving dollar loss thresholds as a means of managing limited prosecutorial resources. However, in establishing monetary thresholds, United States Attorneys must recognize that shippers and carriers often are subject to a series of minor thefts which in their combined loss value can account for more than 80 percent of cargo thefts. While Federal resources do not permit the investigation or prosecution of each minor individual theft, when a pattern of thefts is evident or can be demonstrated an investigative effort by the FBI, which may also involve State or local law enforcement agents, should be considered. This would be especially appropriate where security officials of the carrier are willing to assist in the investigation.

The Department is committed to increased Federal enforcement efforts to combat cargo theft. In recent years, cargo theft clearly has become a major crime problem throughout the country. However, the scope of the problem is difficult to quantify because of the lack of a reliable national data base. Current estimates of cargo theft losses nationwide range from $3.5 billion to $10 billion per year.

Although the problem is particularly acute in the port areas of Miami, New York/New Jersey, and Los Angeles/Long Beach, most other areas of the country also are severely affected. Typically, each of the major transportation hubs around the country suffers cargo theft losses estimated at $1 million a day.

The FBI has designated cargo theft, truck hijacking from interstate carriers, and thefts at and around major seaports and airports, as a priority initiative. United States Attorneys should work closely with the FBI in an effort to identify the scope of the cargo theft problem in each district and to develop a coordinated law enforcement response to the problem. If the district has an area-wide cargo security committee composed of persons in the private sector and law enforcement officials concerned about preventing cargo thefts in their geographical area, the United States Attorney is encouraged to participate in such a voluntary effort.

[cited in USAM 9-61.300]