Colton Harris-Moore was arrested before dawn on northern Eleuthera island, the police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. He said the suspect soon would be flown to Nassau, the capital, where the Royal Bahamas Police Force will hold a news conference.
Harris-Moore has been running from American law enforcement since escaping from a Washington state halfway house in 2008, gained fame and thousands of fans who admired his ability to evade arrest. He is suspected of stealing cars, boats and at least five planes.
Island police picked up his trail in Eleuthera after recovering a 44-foot power boat stolen from a marina on Abaco, 40 miles to the north, where he was suspected in a string of burglaries.
Burglarly victims in Eleuthera told the Associated Press on Saturday they had little doubt the lanky, 6-foot, 5-inch fugitive was on the island.
Ferry boat captain Freddie Grant said he was returning from Harbour Island in northern Eleuthera on Wednesday evening when he saw a tall, white teenager bathing or swimming in an inlet near the ferry landing. Ferry service employee Stan Pennerman also said he saw Harris-Moore lurking in the woods the same day.
Neither man thought much of it until they noticed the next morning that somebody had damaged the ignition system on three of their boats.
A bar at the ferry landing was also burglarized Wednesday night by a thief who cut a screen to break in, dismantled a security light and moved the television’s remote controls, said Denaldo Bain, the 30-year-old manager of Coakley’s International Sporting Lounge.
“He was watching television. He was just chilling,” said Mr. Bain, who also said he saw the teenager in the inlet.
Harris-Moore honed his skills as an outdoorsman while growing up in the woods of Camano Island in Puget Sound about 30 miles north of Seattle. After a troubled childhood, his first conviction, for possession of stolen property, came at age 12. Within a few months of turning 13, he had three more.
He was sentenced to nearly four years in juvenile detention after being caught in an unoccupied home in 2007, but he did well enough there that he was transferred to a group home, where he sneaked out of a window more than two years ago.
He was dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit” for allegedly going shoeless during some crimes and once allegedly leaving behind chalk footprints as a calling card.
He has become a folk hero to supporters, who have bought “Run, Colton, Run” T-shirts and written songs about his exploits. He has tens of thousands of followers on Facebook.
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