Transporting goods worth over five thousand dollars, which are known to be stolen, in interstate commerce is a violation of the Federal National Stolen Property Act (NSPA).' The congressional intent behind the NSPA is to aid the states in punishing those who commit theft, fraud, or counterfeiting in violation of state law, but elude punishment by utilizing the channels of interstate commerce.2 Congress included an interstate transportation element in this statute, which is otherwise parallel to a typical state stolen property statute, merely to supply a constitutional basis for the exertion of federal power.' Thus, Congress enacted the NSPA as a means through which federal authority could be invoked to fill gaps in state prosecutorial authority caused by crimes that are interstate in nature. For example, under this law a thief who steals in New Mexico and transports the stolen goods to California is not beyond the reach of the law if the prosecutorial efforts of either state prove futile. Instead, through the NSPA, the thief
may be brought to justice under the umbrella of federal power.
Punishing the Causer as the Principal: Mens Rea and the Interstate Transportation Element of the National Stolen Property Act,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol38/iss2/6