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.”
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