This young fellow is Colton "Colt" Harris-Moore, aka "The Barefoot Burglar." Police in Washington State say the 18-year-old is suspected of stealing, joy-flying, and then crashing three small planes in the past year. His nickname came from previous burglaries he committed, sans shoes. He's also jacked luxury cars and boats. This photo was retrieved from a digital camera Harris-Moore nabbed from a Mercedes he had also stolen. The Mercedes shirt he's sporting apparently belonged to the owner of the stolen vehicle. Arrested nine times before he was 15, Harris-Moore squats in empty vacation homes on the state's coast, police say, or sleeps in the great outdoors. He has a fan club page on Facebook. From CNN:
(Island County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ed) Wallace said Harris-Moore has charged thousands of dollars worth of video games, GPS devices and police scanners online, using stolen credit cards.
The theft of a Cessna 182 from the San Juan Islands in November jogged Wallace's memory. He recalled what he had found on a computer he said Harris-Moore used. "He had looked at flight manuals and how to fly a plane," he said...
Harris-Moore's mother doubts her son learned to fly on his own.
"Any time anything is stolen, they blame it on Colt," Pam Kohler told the Everett Herald newspaper. "Let's say you're the smartest person in the world. Wouldn't you need a little bit of training in flying a plane? They're not easy."
While it's too late to prevent worldwide coverage of this kid's activities, as a local (about an hour south of Camano Island in Seattle) getting regular updates in the paper and other media about Harris-Moore, I'm concerned about him simply staying alive.
This week, when sheriffs were investigating a theft at a home remote from others, a shot was fired, they report. No one was hit, and the sheriffs are not alleging that Harris-Moore fired it. Nonetheless, I worry that he's already become a folk hero, and we all know how American folk heroes end: in a blaze of bullets, death by police.
While this may all seem remote and romantic, the kid's mother--oddly proud of him for apparently teaching himself to fly and clearly in routine communication with him--fears he'll be killed.
He's clearly a brilliant kid, who would probably have done better in rural Alaska than in exurban Washington state. I just hope he comes out of the cold, accepts some part of his role, and perhaps moves on to a more interesting life.
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