Will new titling law help?

The state of Florida is consistently number one in boat registrations, so it stands to reason it would be the top state for boat thefts as well – and for the third straight year, it is.

New data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows in 2018 Florida had 1,114 boat thefts, more than twice the number of California, which came in at number two at 483.

The state can also boast the top three US cities for boat thefts: Miami, Ft Lauderdale and Tampa, in ranked order.

A titling law recently passed unanimously by the Florida legislature and awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature could help cut down those numbers, ensuring the vessel someone is buying belongs to the person who is selling. The legislation would also require individuals and insurers to report repairs, which would be listed on titles in a damage statement prior to selling, much like an automotive title.

Peter Magnuson, who has been selling and repairing boats in Tallahassee, Florida for 25 years, told WFTS-TV that he expects the bill would help cut that kind of fraud. Until that happens, Magnuson suggests buyers take boats to a mechanic for a checkup before purchase.

“Stolen, sunk or severely damaged, they’re patched up and sold, unbeknownst to the people who buy them,” he told the television station.

If the governor signs the measure, it will go into place July 1, 2023. State officials said the date will give them enough time to prepare for the change.