Are Police Close to Catching the 'Barefoot Bandit'?
Colton Harris-Moore, The Barefoot Bandit. (www.facebook.com)
Seattle Post Intelligencer via YellowBrix
June 22, 2010
SEATTLE – Has infamous teen bandit Colton Harris-Moore fled the gloomy Pacific Northwest for the sunny summer warmth of the Midwest?
Police there are investigating that possibility after a string of burglaries and thefts in South Dakota that bear the distinct signature of the notorious “Barefoot Bandit.”
While authorities don’t know for sure if their suspect is Harris-Moore, police in Yankton, S.D., have been contacted by their counterparts in the Northwest, asking them to look into the possibility.
Yankton’s assistant police chief, Jerry Hisek, said the Northwest agencies’ interest was triggered by a rash of crimes, including break-ins and thefts of vehicles at airports and burglarized homes, that match Harris-Moore’s profile.
The South Dakota crime spree started after Harris-Moore apparently left the Northwest, donating $100 to a Raymond animal hospital and stealing a $450,000 yacht on his way to Oregon, then reportedly stealing more cars as he made his way toward Idaho.
A few days after Harris-Moore’s trail went cold in Boise, Idaho, on June 12, authorities in South Dakota noticed an unusual series of incidents:
• A vehicle with Washington state license plates was found abandoned in South Dakota, according to a local news station.
• A vehicle was reported stolen from the Spearfish, S.D., airport and another was stolen from the Yankton airport on Tuesday.
• One or more homes were burglarized in the same area, not far from the airport.
• In one of the burglaries, police say a man who fits the description of Harris-Moore occupied a home while the family was on vacation. The family came home and surprised him in their house, and the man fled the scene.
Police say it appears Harris-Moore spent about three months living in the San Juan Islands before his latest escapades.
Then in mid-May police think the elusive teen fled the islands in a series of stolen boats and wound up on Camano Island, where his mother lives.
Harris-Moore, also known as the “Barefoot Bandit” because his footprints have been found at some crime scenes, is suspected of stealing property worth as much as $1.5 million, and has been on the run since he escaped from a Renton group home in April 2008.
Since then he has been a thorn in the side of police, taunting investigators with his brazen crimes. Each time police have gotten close, Harris-Moore has managed to disappear into the woods without a trace.
Police believe he has broken into dozens of homes on islands around Puget Sound, and stolen planes, luxury cars and boats in five Washington counties, Idaho and Canada.
His crimes have made him a national celebrity. A Facebook page has thousands of fans, a magazine article has been published and a movie deal is reportedly in the works.