Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colton Harris-Moore, Tale of a Teenage Outlaw

**New: Colton is Captured: Better in the Bahamas?

Update by Paul Van Olson

June 30, the day after Nebraskan officials issued their warrant for Harris-Moore's arrest for his alleged crimes in Nebraska, another car, stolen in Illinois, was discovered near the Monroe County Airport outside Bloomington, Ind. Police in the area were notified to be on the lookout for Harris-Moore, but no announcements of the find or of police suspicions of Harris-Moore's presence in the Bloomington area were made to the media. On July 5, though, it was announced that an airplane owner who had left the keys in his Cessna at the Monroe County Airport to allow maintenance to be performed over the Independence Day weekend had reported his airplane missing, and that the plane had been discovered on July 4, crash-landed in shallow water off the coast of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, 1,200 miles from Bloomington. It seemed that the Barefoot Burglar had gone international.

Colton Harris-Moore in custody
Colton Harris-Moore in custody
On July 6, 2010, the FBI announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Harris-Moore, and unsealed charges against him for the theft of the plane in Idaho the previous year. Bahamian police launched a manhunt on Grand Abaco Island, after reports of burglaries and a stolen Chevy Tahoe confirmed the Barefoot Bandit's modus operandi. A sailing regatta underway that weekend provided a larger-than-usual population of tourists on the island into which Harris-Moore could attempt to blend, and a surfeit of light watercraft on which to escape to other islands in the Bahamas.

When a boat was indeed reported stolen on July 8, and located on a nearby Eleuthera Island, the search broadened to the entire island chain. Surveillance-camera footage captured him passing through bars and restaurants on the islands, but police remained a step behind, arriving at each sighting only after Harris-Moore had moved on.

By the end of the week, repeated sightings of Harris-Moore on Eleuthera moved the focus of search to the narrow, 110-mile long island. Police received a series of tips on Saturday, indicating that Harris-Moore was in the vicinity of Harbour Island, a small barrier island off the north tip of Eleuthera. Police boats spotted Harris-Moore around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, and Harris-Moore, true to form, allegedly led the Bahamian police on high-speed boat chase, which ended when police fired on his craft. Harris-Moore then allegedly attempted to throw a handgun into the shallow waters before being taken into custody. Surrendering to police on July 11, Harris-Moore was moved from Eleuthera (the name of the island being Greek for "freedom") to Nassau for booking, where in a final irony, Harris-Moore was brought barefoot off the plane, this time in shackles.

Harris-Moore now faces a host of charges in the Bahamas, followed by extradition back to the U.S. An online defense fund has been set up at the request of Harris-Moore's mother to help his family defray the charges of his defense. His first court appearance in the Bahamas was scheduled for July 13. Harris-Moore faces as much as 12 years in prison for the various charges against him.

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