July 11th, 2010
01:00 PM ET

Barefoot Bandit caught



A teenage fugitive known as the "barefoot bandit" was arrested early Sunday on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, police said.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, was arrested in the town of Harbor Island, police Sgt. Paul Lewis said. Harris-Moore was being transported to Nassau, Bahamas, on Sunday.

[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."]

The FBI, however, did not immediately confirm Harris-Moore was in custody, saying it wanted to positively identify him through fingerprints first.

Royal Bahamian police are "absolutely confident they have him," said Steve Dean, assistant special agent in charge for the FBI's Seattle, Washington, office. The FBI will compare fingerprints to determine whether the suspect is Harris-Moore upon his arrival in Nassau, Dean said.

Harris-Moore is suspected of flying a stolen plane to the Bahamas. He has been on the run since 2008, when he escaped from a juvenile halfway house in Renton, Washington, after pleading guilty to three counts of burglary and being sentenced to three years. He was called the "barefoot bandit" because he was without shoes when he allegedly broke into houses.

He has been linked to a series of home break-ins in Oregon and Washington, but authorities believed he moved eastward recently. He was suspected of breaking into airports in South Dakota and Nebraska, and also suspected in the thefts of several cars.

Authorities in Madison County, Nebraska, issued an arrest warrant for him last month on charges of burglary and theft by unlawful taking or deception. The affidavit supporting the warrant details a crime spree fitting the alleged pattern of the elusive teen, who has amassed thousands of followers on Facebook.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Washington unsealed an indictment for airplane theft against Harris-Moore in the theft of an aircraft last year in Idaho, which was flown to Washington state and found crashed. DNA evidence and fingerprints linked Harris-Moore to the plane theft, the indictment states.

Harris-Moore was linked to the theft of a single-engine plane last week at Monroe County Airport in Bloomington, Indiana.

Bruce Payton, the airport director, said a 2009 Cessna 400 Corvalis was reported missing from a locked hangar. He said the owner of the plane was told by the U.S. Coast Guard that an emergency locator transmitter for the Cessna was sending out a beacon from the Bahamas.

The plane was found just off Abaco Island in the Bahamas, police said, and evidence from the aircraft was taken by investigators. Authorities were also looking into several reported thefts and break-ins reported in the area since the crash-landing.

The FBI had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. An FBI statement indicated that agents believe Harris-Moore was involved in the Indiana theft, with the statement saying, "Should you see Harris-Moore in The Bahamas, please contact the nearest Royal Bahamas Police Force Station."

In Yankton, South Dakota, on June 17, residents returned to find an intruder inside the house, said Assistant Police Chief Jerry Hisek.

"He'd eaten some of their food, took a shower, cut his hair," Hisek said of the intruder. "He started to run and the guy chased him into the basement of the house."

The intruder "laser-dotted the guy and said, 'I have a gun. Get out of here, or I'm going to kill you.'" Hisek said the owner did not know if the individual had a laser pen or a gun.

Harris-Moore was suspected in the incident, and "we're classifying him as armed," Hisek said.
In December, Time magazine dubbed Harris-Moore "America's Most Wanted Teenage Bandit," and a Facebook site for him showed nearly 58,000 "fans" as of Sunday.

Harris Moore's mother, Pamela Kohler, has told CNN affiliate KIRO that she wanted her son to turn himself in, but said she was "proud" her son had actually taught himself to fly.

20th Century Fox has purchased the rights for a film based on the exploits of the young fugitive.

Follow the Falcon File on Twitter @FalconCNN

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Augsbee

    That is one very troubled, dangerous young man. Hopefully he'll be put away for a long time. His mother should be investigated, she's probably troubled also, who knows if maybe she's been involved in crimes herself.

    July 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  2. teresa, ohio

    hmmm, i dont think he would have got caught if he quit doing the same type of steal jobs. he should have varied the activity.

    too bad, so sad. the birds wings have been clipped.

    July 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm |

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