July 20th, 2011
11:59 PM ET

Crime & Punishment: The Barefoot Bandit’s outrageous adventure

Editor's note: Watch Ted Rowlands' report about Colton Harris-Moore tonight on AC360° beginning at 10pm ET.

(CNN) - When 20-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit,” is talking about his two-year joyride running from the cops his attorney John Henry Browne says he’s mesmerized.

“There’re a lot of things that nobody knows about yet,” says Browne from his downtown Seattle office. “His saga is breathtaking in many ways.”

That saga ended in the Bahamas with Harris-Moore’s arrest last July. He pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal with prosecutors and will likely be out of prison before he turns 30. “He wants to go to college” says Browne, “he wants to be a productive member of society.”

For more than two years Harris-Moore led law enforcement on a wild ride across nine states and three countries. He stole, flew, and crashed five airplanes.

“He evaded [the Department of] Homeland Security. It’s pretty embarrassing for the government in some ways, but he didn’t know he was doing those things, at all. He told me he really had no plan. His plan was to go from point A to point B.” says Browne.

Harris-Moore got himself into some incredible situations while on the run like “rowing a 10-foot boat across the Mississippi River in November at one of the widest parts and then losing an oar,” says Browne. ‘It was a hail storm and he was wearing cargo shorts, and it was a 10-foot rowboat.”

Browne says he can’t say much more because the rights to Harris-Moore’s story have already been sold. As part of the plea agreement worked out with prosecutors, Harris-Moore’s victims will get the proceeds.

Here’s what is known about Harris-Moore’s childhood before his much publicized game of cat-and-mouse with authorities began: He grew up on beautiful Camano Island, a popular summer vacation spot north of Seattle. According to child welfare reports, life at home for Harris-Moore was anything but a vacation.

“Colton had to go fend for himself for dinner and he did that by breaking into neighbors’ homes and stealing frozen pizzas,” says Jackson Holtz, a reporter at the Herald newspaper in Everett, Wash., and author of the book “Fly Colton Fly.” “By the time Moore was 15, he was breaking into homes so often, he’d become a community menace.”

Harris-Moore also was known for leaving footprints - shoeless footprints, hence the nickname.

In February 2007, Harris-Moore was caught and sentenced to three years in juvenile detention. A year later, after a transfer to a halfway house outside Seattle, he escaped. “That’s when he began to do these phenomenal crimes, just unbelievable crimes,” says Holtz.

He didn’t know how to fly, but Harris-Moore would end up stealing, flying, and crashing five planes. People following the incredible story started cheering him on. “Here was a kid who was sticking it to the law, flying airplanes, breaking into rich people’s vacations homes,” Holtz says. “People were behind him.”

Harris-Moore’s final journey took him across eight states, leaving behind a trail of home and business break-ins and stolen cars.

Surveillance video shows him taking off in a stolen plane from Bloomington, Ind., heading to the Bahamas. Harris-Moore lasted a few more days before police stopped him by shooting up a stolen boat while Harris-Moore was stuck on a sand bar. Harris-Moore’s plea deal is expected to result in a prison sentence of about 10 years. He also faces an assortment of state charges.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. harold

    Ok . here is the deal we will make bussiness with car , automotrix industryn . sorru 4 the orthography , lets export just when ppl have 2c pay the do the best they can .we can pay in the inner parts of trucks , yeahhhhhhh do you remember henry ford. we can do it 4 free guys. and if we we do it with agro machines ( maquinas agricolas ) and seeds . we can feed the world .the can do , or we can do the body in situ .in the country ) lets feed our children in the world , they need 2 eat .( seeds included.)please./ how you doinng dude ? we r doing our best father. we can include africa ,rusia,, latn america., etc . Jesus ,hallowed b yor name..

    July 23, 2011 at 6:49 am |
  2. Michelle St-urbain

    Barefoot Bamdit, again the US has proven that there is no such thing as J U S T I C E.
    30 years for What???? how may humain lives he has taken.
    why don't they help him financially with his mother, maybe that is all he need.
    I bet if he was the Son of Muddock he would have gotten only good publicity.

    July 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  3. Melissa

    There's nothing cool about what he did. He wants to go to college? Well its sure going to be interesting when he puts his crime down on his job applications. No company is going to want to hire a thief. The kid did nothing but screw up his future. Yes, I agree that he embarrassed Homeland security, but he embarrassed himself too. Oh yeah, he needs to keep in mind that the next 9.5 or so years of prison aren't going to be as adventurous. Dumb move, kid!

    July 20, 2011 at 9:39 pm |