Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colton Harris-Moore, Tale of a Teenage Outlaw

Brush With Justice

As police expanded their search for Colton Harris-Moore on Camano Island and news spread about the "Barefoot Burglar," authorities say the fugitive teen may have felt squeezed off his old stomping grounds. His trail led to Orcas and the San Juan Islands, north of Puget Sound near the Canadian border.

Map with Camano, San Juan and Orcas Island locators
Map with Camano, San Juan and Orcas Island locators

Police in Island and San Juan counties noticed a jump in burglaries after Harris-Moore's April 2008 escape from a halfway house. According to San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming, the police initially didn't want to publicly report their suspicions because they wanted the teen to feel a false sense of security. When nabbing Colton Harris-Moore proved difficult, the police changed their strategy.

"This young man has been prolific in his activity in a compressed period of time," Cumming told the Islands' Sounder newspaper.

According to police, that activity included Harris-Moore's burglarizing a marina, a cafe, a bank, a hardware store, several markets, and numerous homes.

News reports say that in many of the break-ins, Colton Harris-Moore is suspected of climbing onto roofs and dropping through skylights to get into the buildings.

Sheriff Cumming warned of another danger. "Part of his M.O. is to take credit card information, but leave the card," he told the Islands' Sounderso victims would still have their card but would only discover the theft if they checked their bill.

Police have tried to get the word out about their suspect. They've put his face on wanted posters and called for citizens to be on the lookout for Harris-Moore. And he will be difficult to miss: Colton Harris-Moore is 6 feet 5 inches tall, weighs 205 pounds, and has brown hair and green eyes.

The police have reportedly been very close to catching the teen on numerous occasions. In September 2009, deputies on Orcas were close enough to identify Harris-Moore, but the teen ran away through a graveyard and into the woods. "We could hear him laughing," an officer told Bob Friel. The teen managed to steal a boat nearby and make his escape.

While Colton Harris-Moore was frustrating police on the land and on the sea, his most unexpected move completely surprised authorities. He took to the air.

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