Home About Us What We Investigate Violent Crime & Major Thefts Art Theft Jurisdiction/Legislation



The FBI has primary investigative jurisdiction for all federal criminal laws except cases in which responsibility is, by statute or otherwise, specifically assigned to another agency. The FBI has responsibility for the following federal statutes:

Title 18, United States Code, Section 659 - Theft From Interstate Shipment

Makes it a federal offense to steal or obtain by fraud anything from a conveyance, depot or terminal, any shipment being transported in interstate or foreign commerce. The statute also prohibits the "fencing" of such stolen property.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951 - Interference with Commerce by Threats of Violence (Hobbs Act)

Makes it a federal offense to obstruct interstate commerce by robbery or extortion or to use or threaten to use violence against any person or property in interstate commerce.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 2314 and 2315 - Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property

Prohibits the transportation in interstate or foreign commerce of any goods with a value of $5,000 or more knowing the goods to be stolen. These statutes also prohibit the "fencing" of such goods.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 668 - Theft of Major Artwork

Makes it a federal offense to obtain by theft or fraud any object of cultural heritage from a museum. The statute also prohibits the "fencing" or possession of such objects, knowing them to be stolen.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 1170 - Illegal Trafficking in Native American Human Remains and Cultural Items

Prohibits the sale of the human remains or cultural artifacts of Native Americans without the right of possession of those items in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 641 and 2114 - Theft of Government Property

Makes it illegal to steal or embezzle any government property or to commit robbery of government property. Prosecutive guidelines are established by the United States Attorney in each federal judicial district.

What to do when an art theft has been discovered:

  • Protect the scene of the crime and do not let staff or visitors into the area to disturb evidence.
  • Notify your local police department immediately.
  • Determine the last time the objects were seen and what happened in the area, or to the objects, since that time.
  • Gather documents, descriptions and images of the missing objects and provide to the police.
  • Follow-up on police actions and investigations to ensure that everything possible is being done.