Man accused of sinking car to commit insurance fraud, deputies find it three years later

Shawn Barnes is charged with false and fraudulent insurance claim

Shawn Barnes

BUNNELL, Fla. – The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man they say intentionally sank his car in order to file a false insurance claim

According to deputies, in 2017, authorities responded to a stolen vehicle complaint in Bunnell.

Shawn Barnes, 28, told deputies that his Fiat 500 had been stolen from his driveway overnight.

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Earlier this year a witness contacted FCSO and told deputies that Barnes was responsible for the disappearance of his own car.

“The witness stated that on December 29, 2017, Barnes and the witness were traveling together in the Fiat 500,” deputies said. “Barnes drove the vehicle to a boat ramp in Putnam County where Barnes placed a rock on the accelerator and launched the car off a bulkhead next to the boat ramp into the canal where it sank to the bottom.”

According to deputies, Barnes was telling the witness that he was purposely sinking his car so he could make a false insurance claim.

In October, FCSO and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Dive Teams found the submerged car and removed it from the water.

Authorities said when the car was out of the water they found a large rock on the front driver side floorboard. In addition to the rock, the steering wheel had been tied off to a fixture, the keys were still in the ignition and the vehicle gear was still in drive.

“This is another great example of how guardianship policing works to solve crimes,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “This witness gave vital information to our investigators and we were able to locate the vehicle and put this guy behind bars where he belongs. Criminal acts like this cause all our insurance rates to go up. We’d like to again thank the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in retrieving the vehicle.”

Barnes was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility. Deputies said he is charged with false and fraudulent insurance claim. Barnes was released after posting a $3,000 bond.