How She Killed Her Toddler 1
Stands By Lifer Who Got Her Shot 2
Child Abuse at Its Most Bizarre 3

Colton Harris-Moore, Master Teen Burglar, Has Taken to Joyriding in Airplanes

By Pete Kotz in fugitives, robbery, unsolved
Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 6:19 pm
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Colton Harris-Moore has stolen everything from boats to airplanes
UPDATE: Colton Harris-Moore suspected of stealing the plane of a radio show host. See update after the jump...

Give it up for Colton Harris-Moore. Though the 18-year-old has chosen a life of crime, at least he's decided to be good at it.

Since escaping from a halfway house last year, the kid is suspected in 50 burglaries on the islands outside Seattle. His usual M.O. is to break into vacation homes when no one's around, get some sleep, then steal whatever's available. But he's also knocked off safes and ATMs from businesses and stolen a boat. Now he's graduated to more sophisticated crimes -- like stealing airplanes.

Harris-Moore, a career delinquent, naturally doesn't have a pilot's license. But that hasn't stopped him from stealing three small planes from rural airports. He takes them for joyrides, crashes them in the woods, then flees, often running barefoot...

Unfortunately, he isn't very good at covering his tracks. He's been dubbed the barefoot burglar for his practice of running around shoeless, leaving footprints at numerous crime scenes. In one airplane theft, police found footprints on the wall, as if he was kicking back eating before swiping the plane.

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Without any flight training, the kid has managed to steal -- and crash -- three planes
Despite sightings, cops haven't been able to nab the 6-foot-5 lad. The small islands have neither sophisticated police forces nor the manpower to track him down. And his mom believes he's protected by a group of friends that provide him with shelter.

That's made him something of a minor celeb in the region. A fan club has been started in his honor on Facebook. And an enterprising guy in Seattle is selling T-shirts with his picture and the inscription "Momma Tried."

After hearing from Mom, you can probably understand why the kid turned out this way.
"I hope to hell he stole those airplanes -- I would be so proud," Pam Kohler told the Associated Press, clearly pleased that her son had learned to fly on his own initiative. "But put in there that I want him to wear a parachute next time."

She occasionally talks to the boy by phone, but won't say where he is. She's trying to stay upbeat like only the weird mother of a boy criminal can. "I figure I'll spend my time with him in a positive way, because who knows if he'll be shot tomorrow?"

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Maybe the kid isn't a genius after all. He's caught on tape in this grocery store burglary, where he tried to smash open an ATM with a pallet jack.

UPDATE: Colton Harris-Moore's DNA is found at a burglarized grocery store in Eastsound, Washington.

Surveillance cameras at the Island Market caught a kid fitting Harris-Moore's description breaking into the store. He's seen walking around the place covering his face with an arm, then trying to use a pallet jack to smash open an ATM, which didn't exactly work.

He was later seen strolling the store with a shirt wrapped around his hand, apparently after cutting it. Detectives found blood in the sink that matched his DNA.

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Bob Rivers' plane was found crashed with no pilot in sight
UPDATE II: If police are pissed off that Harris-Moore has eluded them for so long, count a Seattle radio host as equally pissed.

Bob Rivers of KZOK radio believes Harris-Moore was the kid who broke into the hangar where his plane was stored, found some keys and took it for a joyride -- in the middle of his show. The single-engine plane was later found crashed on Yakama tribal land.

And just like police, Rivers is angry with people who've romanticized Harris-Moore as something of a boy-genius bandit. "I was furious that something like this could happen," Rivers said on his show. "It's a burglar with a James Bond complex, and they need to catch him."

But since he's a radio host --perhaps the most irritating species the world has ever known -- is it really a crime to steal his stuff?

Meanwhile, Caleb Hannan at our sister paper Seattle Weekly is reporting that Hollywood's already interested in recreating the tale of the pubescent burglar.



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