July 12th, 2010
10:20 PM ET

Barefoot Bandit: Folk hero or crook?

The Barefoot Bandit has more than 80,000 Facebook fans who see him as a folk hero, a modern-day Jesse James. But police say Colton Harris-Moore is a brazen 19-year-old criminal, pure and simple.

The beginning and end of Harris-Moore's two-year run as a wanted fugitive is the stuff of Hollywood. Indeed, one studio has optioned his story. But police and some of his victims don't think he should be glamorized as he makes his first court appearance Tuesday.

"They can never imprison a mind like yours Colton," wrote one admirer on Harris-Moore's Facebook fan page Monday, a day after he was captured during a high-speed boat chase in the Bahamas.

"I can understand on one level people being interested in his activities, but I think most thoughtful people, when they stop and think about it, realize he's a common criminal," said Bill Cummings, a sheriff who has been tracking Harris-Moore for years. "Those who see him as a folk hero aren't looking any deeper than the surface."

The strapping 6-foot, 5-inch high school dropout was raised by a single mother in a trailer on Camano Island off the rugged coast of Washington state.

Local media accounts, including a detailed profile in Monday's edition of The Herald in Everett, Washington, cite court records that tell the story of a turbulent childhood.

When Harris-Moore was a boy, his classmates called him "Klepto Colt," wrote journalist Bob Friel, who lives on nearby Orcas Island. Friel's lengthy profile was published in Outside magazine in January.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Wendy M.

    I think he just watched "Catch Me if You Can" too many times... This kid should be very thankful he was not killed by a cop or a homeowner.

    July 13, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. Marc L from NY

    He's a criminal plain and simple. All of those people calling him a folk hero wouldn't be doing so if it was them that he stole from, I guarantee it.

    July 13, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. Drew

    I'm just confused as to how this kid could even pull off tying his own shoe. He looks like he has down syndrome.

    July 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TheRealityChecker

    Criminal, yes. Folk hero? Well, yes he is, like it or not. Had he used violence or robbed struggling, poverty-level families, such would not be the case. But from the press accounts, most of the people he stole from were more than a bit well off. Average Joes do not own airplanes or 44-foot speedboats or vacation homes. Most of us are lucky to have a car that's under warranty and a roof over our heads. Bottom line is: he stole from the rich. Most Americans think the rich are stealing from the average American, and that the Barefoot Bandit has performed a public service that we would all would perform if we could get away with it. That he kept it for himself instead of giving it to the poor just means he is not Robin Hood.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • edmpanda

      The REALITY is that his HIGH-PROFILE crimes of stealing planes and speedboats were newsworthy. The LOW-Profile claims, such as breaking into peoples homes, breaking into small businesses, breaking into mom-pop operated grocery stores, and other travesties were simply too :ordinary: to capture the interests of most news organizations.

      No doubt, there is an interesting and financially viable story behind this guy's exploits. But that does not make him any different from the common thug that belongs behind bars. He may be a Folk Legend, but he is absolutely no hero.

      July 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |

    He is a criminal and stealing planes and crash landing them, stealing boats with gunshots being fired and breaking into homes, thankfully not being shot himself, and similar activities are all potentiallly dangerous. He is not a folk hero. He has been a criminal since about age 12. My only sympathy for him arises from the fact that his mother is apparently a bigger nitwit than he is. I think, if any evidence surfaces that she knew of his whereabouts while being sought by the police, she should be prosecuted and jailed for conspiracy. And, while he is in jail for a significant length of time property of others will be safer.

    July 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • mkline

      Unfortunately, anyone young,beautiful,or handsome in the media,regardless of the horrible things they have done,are used to the advantage of the mainstream media for their current value.If this guy would have murdered a few woman, there would still be a jailhouse wedding from yet another young woman content to glow in her own fifteen minutes of misdirected attention.

      July 15, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beermonger

    This dude is friggin awesome....

    July 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DB

    Camano Island is not off the "rugged coast" of Washington State. Camano Island is an island in the Puget Sound and is flanked by major metropolitain areas. A more accurate description would be "Suburban." Washington's rugged coast, and the Pacific Ocean, are a 200 mile drive or about a 120 miles as the crow flies from Camano Island. It's like saying Lake Ontario is on New York's coast. It's completely inaccurate and annoying.

    July 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. trbll

    A better question is when the book and/or movie come who will get the profits ?

    July 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Uwe

    Cham – were you into video games at one point?I wouldn't have given any urnvaofable answer about anything concerning myself to school personal. School personal have no professional obligation or even right to confidentiality like priests, therapists or doctors do.I just answer the questions how I want to and laugh about it when I leave.

    August 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |