Teen known as ‘Barefoot Bandit’ caught in Bahamas
NASSAU, Bahamas | The teenage “Barefoot Bandit” suspected of stealing cars, boats and airplanes to dodge U.S. law enforcement was nabbed Sunday as he tried to make a water escape then brought handcuffed — and shoeless — to the capital to face justice, abruptly ending his two-year life on the lam.
Colton Harris-Moore was arrested before dawn in northern Eleuthera, said Sgt. Chrislyn Skippings, a spokeswoman for the Royal Bahamas Police Force. A contingent of high-ranking officers traveled to the island and took the suspect to Nassau, the country’s capital, where he faces possible extradition to the United States.
True to his nickname, the 19-year-old suspect was barefoot as he stepped off the plane. He kept his head down and ignored questions shouted by reporters. Escorted by six police cars and sport utility vehicles, the teen had close-shorn hair and wore short camouflage cargo pants, a white long-sleeved shirt and a bulletproof vest. Police blocked traffic on the route to the Central Detective Unit, where he was taken for processing.
Island police had been searching for the wily fugitive since he reportedly crash-landed a stolen plane a week ago on nearby Great Abaco Island, where he was blamed for a string of at least seven break-ins.
Authorities caught Mr. Harris-Moore on a boat near Harbor Island, a small tourist destination just off mainland Eleuthera, said a senior police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. He said Mr. Harris-Moore attempted to flee but police shot out the engine on his boat.
Mr. Harris-Moore, who has been running from U.S. 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 — including the aircraft he reportedly lifted in Indiana and flew more than 1,000 miles to the islands off Florida’s coast, despite a lack of formal flight training.
The teen is a skilled outdoorsman who honed his abilities growing up in the woods of Camano Island in Puget Sound about 30 miles north of Seattle.
Island police picked up his trail in Eleuthera after recovering a 44-foot powerboat stolen from a marina on Abaco, 40 miles to the north.
Burglary victims in Eleuthera told the Associated Press on Saturday that 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 Harbor Island 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 said he saw Mr. 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 systems on three of their boats.
A bar at the ferry landing reportedly was burglarized Wednesday night. The thief 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. He also said he saw the teenager in the inlet.