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In a number of videos (example), recently in Florida there was an on-going theft of a jet-ski. The police approached a boat owner who had just launched his boat for the day and asked if he would be willing to take them down to locate the jet-ski.

The owner, instead, offered to allow the officers to take the boat themselves (without him on board), and they found and arrested the thief. This was a sort of voluntary commandeering of a civilian vessel during an active pursuit.

What risks would there be to the owner, if the event had turned out violent (perhaps the thief shot and holed the boat)?

If the officer piloting the boat did not have a captain's license or any other boating certification and proceeded to cause damage to other's property?

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  • The thief would have to pay for the hole ;-) It needs a big gun to cause severe damage to a boat. You can hole it, but that won't really stop it, since such a hole would be to small to have an immediate effect. And a bullet can most likely hole a boat only above the waterline.
    – PMF
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 19:41
  • I understand the question, and I think it's a good one. My point was more that firing a handgun at a boat won't really stop them (unless you hit the officer, of course).
    – PMF
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 14:47
  • I've no ideas what they say, but most jurisdictions must have rules governing such situations. I'd assume that if the boat/vehicle was commandeered, the officers would be responsible for anything that happened to it; basically, for returning in the same condition. "Voluntary commandeering" sounds like a challenging neologism. It might be assumed the same rules automatically applied but… the more so since this is a boat… isn't it true that in maritime law it makes a huge difference whether salvage of a ship is requested by the crew, or offered by the rescuer? Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 16:43

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