Wash.’s elusive teenage ‘Barefoot Bandit’ appears to be moving east; warrant issued in Neb.

By Margery A. Beck, AP
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Elusive teenage ‘Barefoot Bandit’ moving eastward

OMAHA, Neb. — A suspected teenage burglar from Washington known for daring exploits to evade capture is apparently moving eastward, according to authorities who think they spotted him on a Nebraska airport’s surveillance video the same day an SUV there went missing.

Police in Norfolk issued an arrest warrant for 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore — dubbed “The Barefoot Bandit” after allegedly committing crimes sans footwear — following a June 19 break-in at the municipal airport office. Police discovered an SUV also was stolen from the airport. It turned up nearly 240 miles away in Pella, Iowa.

Harris-Moore, of Camano Island, Wash., has evaded authorities since April 2008, when he escaped from a halfway house south of Seattle. He is accused of breaking into dozens of homes since and committing burglaries across Washington, as well as in British Columbia and Idaho.

He’s believed to have stolen boats, cars, even several small airplanes that have been hot-wired and then crash-landed. Much to the chagrin of law enforcement, a Harris-Moore fan club boasts more than 42,000 followers on Facebook.

Last fall, bare footprints were found at an airport hangar in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where a plane was stolen then crash-landed 260 miles to the west in Washington. In February, someone who broke into a grocery store in the San Juan Islands drew cartoonish, chalk-outline feet all over the floor.

Norfolk Police Capt. Steve Hecker said Wednesday that after the airport break-in, his department learned Harris-Moore also was suspected of stealing a car from Yankton, S.D. It turned up last week in Norfolk.

An affidavit accompanying the Nebraska warrant — which charges Harris-Moore with burglary and theft — says the teen is suspected of stealing several other cars to travel from Norfolk to Pella, Iowa, then to Ottumwa, Iowa, and on to Dallas City, Ill.

Harris-Moore also is suspected of breaking into a home in Yankton on June 18, according to the affidavit, which said a family had returned from a vacation to find a nude man in their home.

“The homeowner tried to catch the suspect, but the suspect ended up pointing a laser sight at the homeowner and told them to leave the residence,” the affidavit says. “The homeowner believed the laser sight could be attached to a gun.”

The family left, and no one was hurt, Sheriff Dave Hunhoff in Yankton said.

Norfolk detectives sent the airport surveillance video to the FBI’s Seattle office and the Island County, Wash., sheriff’s department. Detectives in the Island County office “are 85-90 percent sure” the footage shows Harris-Moore, the affidavit says.

But Norfolk police aren’t actively searching for him, Hecker said.

“We don’t think he was here very long at all,” Hecker said. “In fact, we think he was gone from our area prior to our crimes even being reported to us.”

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