March 18th, 2010
03:25 PM ET

Massive search for America's most wanted teen


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/18/colton.facebook.jpg
caption="A facebook fan page for Colton Harris-Moore. He is suspected of stealing planes, boats, and luxury automobiles."]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A massive land and air search is underway on an island off the Washington State coast for a young fugitive that Time Magazine last year dubbed “America’s Most Wanted Teen Bandit.”

Colton Harris-Moore,18, is suspected of stealing planes, boats, and luxury automobiles over the course of a crime spree that began several years ago.

Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies have descended on Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands, where Harris-Moore is believed to be hiding out. San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming, who is overseeing the operation, had a message for the accused serial burglar: “It’s time to stop and it is time to come in,” Cumming told CNN. “We just don’t want to see anyone hurt, and that certainly includes him.”

Sheriff’s deputies, dog tracking teams, FBI personal, and air support from U.S. Customs are all involved in the manhunt for Harris-Moore, Bunning said in a statement issued today.

“The ongoing search, the result of the continuing investigation into the activities of this fugitive, began at 0115 hrs this morning. Harris is believed to be in a very isolated and very rugged area on the west side of the island where only a few homes are located,” the statement said.

Harris-Moore is wanted in at least two jurisdictions for theft-related crimes, authorities said. According to Cumming, the most recent crime was on February 10 when Harris-Moore allegedly flew a stolen plane to the island.

He is also suspected in stealing at least three other planes, including one stolen in Idaho and crash landed in Washington State, Cumming said.

While they are property crimes, investigators caution that they carry an element of danger. “One of the areas we are most concerned about is the airplanes, and the planes traveling over populated areas,” Cumming said. “(It’s) a risk to significant number of people and certainly the sheer volume of cases that he is the suspect in warrants more attention.”

Harris-Moore, who stands 6’5”, has become a hero for some people who have described him as a modern day Frank Abagnale, the famed identity thief portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film “Catch Me if You Can”.

There are more than 21,000 members on a fan Facebook page that call Harris-Moore “the real life 21st century outlaw.”

One entry warns Harris-Moore of the manhunt. It reads, “heads up, they are all over the island…”

But others who have seemingly admired Harris-Moore are urging him to surrender.

“You have proven yourself to have great intelligence and skill. You could do a lot with that,” the message reads. “I worry that, in desperation to stay free, you will do something foolish and end up shot by the police. Its time to step forward – as a man – and take responsibility for your actions.”

For more crime coverage go to cnn.com/crime.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Matt

    What kind jobs is he going to get? Stealing jobs?

    March 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  2. Rose from Muscoy, Calif

    Rememer guys he's young and stupid and don't care. Don't be surprise if he tries to move to another country.

    March 18, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  3. Pamela Porter

    This not an impressive person. He is an idiot and a bad person for causing others pain. So he can think he is cool. And I guess he has a following. Really people where are your priorities. He will enjoy life in the big house where he can meet alot of people like him.

    All not heros!

    Austin, TX

    March 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  4. mus

    I comepletely agree with erik...he's a coward for stealing and causing financial n emotioinal pain to his victims...how can anyone consider someone like him a hero when he spends his time stealing n defrauding people..I certainly would be pissed if he stole any of my hard earned money/possession

    March 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  5. Mike in NYC

    He's mighty impressive. There'll be jobs aplenty waiting for him when he gets out.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
  6. erik

    It's ridiculous for people to think of him as a hero. This person is harming people's lives by committing these crimes! And I guarantee you wont think he's a hero after he steals from you!

    March 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm |