The elements of a violation under 18 U.S.C. § 2312 are that the defendant: (1) unlawfully transported or caused to be transported in interstate or foreign commerce; (2) a stolen motor vehicle or aircraft; and (3) knowing the same to be stolen.
The term "unlawfully" means contrary to law, i.e., the absence of lawful justification. For example, a person voluntarily returning stolen property to its lawful owner would not violate the statute. See Godwin v. United States, 687 F.2d 585 (2d Cir. 1985). Interstate or foreign transportation commences when the journey begins. See United States v. McElroy, 455 U.S. 642 (1982); United States v. Ajlouny, 629 F.2d 830 (2d Cir. 1980); Barfield v. United States, 229 F.2d 936 (5th Cir. 1956).
[cited in JM 9-61.100]