A Philidelphia online Newspaper, RoxReview has a must read story about title theft and how they plan to combat the bad guys. Here is an excerpt about the ploy:

…thieves find houses that are vacant and obviously have not been looked after.

They use public records to learn when taxes and water bills have last been paid to make sure the properties’ owners have had little involvement or have not been paying any attention to them…
(then) a house thief simply gets some legal stationery, types up a deed and gets the property transfer notarized … He then presents that paperwork to the city’s Records Department, pays some fees and in a matter days becomes listed as the owner of record.

The article suggests title insurance as a protection from the problem, but it wants the government to do more. Learn what laws or regulations Philadelphia is considering to curb the growing problem.