The student news site of Hawthorne High School.

The Clarion

The student news site of Hawthorne High School.

The Clarion

The student news site of Hawthorne High School.

The Clarion


Colton Harris-Moore: The Barefoot Bandit

Colton Harris Moore With His Attorney
Colton Harris Moore With His Attorney

Colton Harris-Moore committed 67 felonies in three different countries by stealing 6 airplanes, 19 cars, and robbing over 34 homes. During this time, Moore evaded the FBI, Homeland Security, Canadian Mounties and Bahamian Defense Force for over 2 years…he did all of this before he turned 18 years old. 

Colton Harris-Moore was born on March 22, 1991 in the Camano Islands. Saying Moore had a rough childhood would be an understatement; his father Gordon Moore struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and left the family when Colton was just a toddler, leaving his mother Pamela Kohler with sole custody of Colton. Kohler struggled financially when raising Colton, they were living out of a disheveled single-wide trailer. Kohler also struggled with severe alcohol abuse leading to a dangerous and abusive environment for Colton. 

Throughout elementary and middle school, Colton would deal with bullies because he was often forced to run away from his abusive home and spend days in the forest in the Camano Islands. Since he ran away often, to survive in the woods he would break into the many vacation homes on the island to eat food and steal camping supplies. One day in middle school, Colton met his “mentor” Harley Davidson Ironwing (and yes that is his real name) who had just spent two years in juvenile hall. Harley came from a similar background like Colton his father left when he was young and his mother was a drug and alcohol abuser. Harley became a so-called “mentor” to Colton by sharing with him his knowledge of how to break into a house.

Harley would teach Colton how to pick a lock, find spare keys, and tell him some basic rules. Don’t rob somebody’s house if you know who lives there, don’t turn the lights on, if you get spotted, run, and lastly never feel guilty. After bestowing this information onto Colton, the duo began committing burglaries all over Camano Island. Harley only cared about the money and electronics he could take for himself, but for Colton his thrill was being able to eat a warm meal, play some video games, and find some new clothes. But, back at his home Colton homelife was getting worse and worse with his mother now becoming physically addicted to alcohol and physical altercations evolving the two, but nothing changed even after trying to have his mom attend AA meetings. So at 15 years old, Colton was kicked out the house and would begin to live on his own in the forest. 

Word began to spread across the island that a boy broke into homes just to eat, but some homeowners noticed that certain valuables of theirs were missing. The FBI went to his mom’s house with a warrant in hand calling for the arrest of Colton Harris Moore for committing identity theft. Instead of just taking food, clothes, and supplies Colton was stealing computers, jewelry, and credit cards…Colton taught himself how to steal identities. He would use the credit cards from the homeowners to buy food and survival gear to help him get away from the police. The FBI later found one of the many tents Colton had set up in the Camano forest; they had found everything he stole…computers, jewelry, credit cards, drivers licenses, and even checkbooks. Colton ran before the cops could get to him and now that he is a fugitive the FBI hired trained manhunters to track and arrest Colton for his crimes. The FBI filed multiple warrants for his arrest and placed wanted posters all over the island. 

Colton began to steal cars and boats, and purchased night vision goggles and lock picks with the stolen credit cards. While running from the authorities Colton would hide in the houses he had broken into until the police had left. In some instances, the police had put him in a corner keeping him trapped inside the houses he had broken into, but everytime Colton managed to escape. Now you are probably asking how Colton was able to break into these houses without the homeowners or neighbors noticing him? Well like I mentioned before Colton is from Camano Island where 1 in 3 homes are vacation homes so that means there are a lot of unoccupied homes year round. 

After breaking into a house, stealing the valuables and eating a warm meal Colton broke one of the rules Harley had told him…he left the lights on. So when neighbors saw the lights on in a house they knew was empty they notified the police. The cops surrounded the house without any of the sirens or lights and Colton couldn’t escape this time. On February 9, 2007 Colton-Harris Moore was captured and arrested; he was facing 23 criminal charges. He plead guilty to three of the crimes and made a deal with the prosecutors, he was sentenced three years to Green Hill School which was a maximum security juvenile detention facility. 

At Green Hill School, Colton focused on his education becoming a model student and he filled his time reading books about flying airplanes and even planned to get a college degree after serving his sentence. So, one year after his capture and arrest Colton was transferred for “good behavior” to the Griffin Home Residential Treatment Center which is a fenceless group home. Two months after being transferred, on April 29, 2008, Colton had escaped through an unlocked window. 

Colton returned back to Camano Island to resume his old habits. But the authorities were better prepared for his return back to the island. The local authorities began an aggressive search and campaign for his capture. The local media was also informed of Colton’s possible return and the news stories were pumped out everyday regarding Colton and his crimes. But, as time went on and constantly being outsmarted and outplanned by the teenager the authorities became desperate to capture Colton. So to hopefully sway him to turn himself in the authorities had Colton’s mother plead and beg on television for him to turn himself in to the police. The police were so desperate for his capture that they were willing to lighten his sentence. Now, escaping from a juvenile detention home can add up to 4 years on top of your sentence, but since the police were being led on a wild goose chase with Colton, they were willing to only give him 28 days added on to his sentence. He could’ve gotten out at 19 and have nothing on his record but Colton decided to run instead.

On Colton’s run, he went back to the same stomping grounds and old habits. Breaking into homes stealing food, supplies, as well as credits and was able to do this for 3 months without the police catching him once again. Until July 18, 2008, when the police were in pursuit of a black Mercedes that was driving over 100 miles per hour. As police were able to close in on the suspect, the driver jumped out of the car crashing it into a tree and the driver ran into the nearby woods. When police searched the car they found stolen credit cards, cell phones, driver licenses, and even a digital camera. On that digital camera the police found photos of Colton Harris Moore camping out in the woods. 

Because of Colton’s crimes the town was on edge, and with residents on the island reporting sightings of teens, the fear kept growing. Colton became so popular that he had even gained fans which created a FaceBook fan page that grew to over 15,000 members. Residents of the island were becoming prepared by purchasing firearms, ammunition, as well as security cameras. 

Colton eventually found his way to the Orcas Islands by stealing a boat and on the island were he camped out in the woods keeping an eye on the local airport. He would watch when takeoffs and landings were taking place, the workers shifts, and after recon he finally took action. Before sunrise, Colton walked up to a brand new Cessna 182 Skylane and he found the keys seats and rolled the plane out to the runway and started the engine and flew off. Before flying the plane, Colton had a rough idea on how to operate it because he played flight simulators as well as reading about planes at Green Hill School. Colton was able to fly 300 miles east of the airport, where he eventually crashed because the plane ran out of fuel. The plane was destroyed but Colton was fine and was able to walk off into the nearby town. 

After the crash, Colton was able to steal a series of cars and stay on the move without being caught. To prevent being caught, after the car he had stolen ran out of gas he would ditch it for a new one because he knew there were cameras at gas stations and he could be easily tracked by authorities. In May of 2009, Colton once again returned to Camano Island where he would continue to lead the cops on a wild goose chase. Then in the early morning of June 19, 2009, Colton had broken into a police car and stole a cell phone, a rifle, along with a box of ammunition. Even though Colton never committed a violent crime before, police and residents were worried of what he might do if he was trapped in a corner with nowhere to go. Thankfully, Colton never used the rifle. 

Then on September 8, 2009, he decided to steal a $250,000 boat and heads towards the Friday Harbor in the San Juan Island. He eventually found the local airport and stole a Cirrus SR22 plane and crash landed it all the way on Orcas Island. After law enforcement caught wind of another plane crash they began setting up police barriers around all docks and airports near the crash site. Somehow, Colton is able to break through the barricades and steal a twin engine boat and illegally crosses the border to Canada. So for about a week, Colton commits more burglaries, steals a few cars and high tails it to Creston Canada. In Creston, he steals another car and heads down to Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Then a day after arriving in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, Colton stole a Cessna 182, his third stolen plane. He flew the plane to Granite Falls, Washington which is around 260 miles west of Idaho. 

Throughout this time, Colton had racked up approximately 100 thefts throughout Washington, Idaho, and Canada, most of which involved stolen cars, airplanes, and speedboats, and he was the prime suspect for all of it. Unphased by all of these charges Colton decided to steal yet another Cirrus SR22 plane from the Anacortes Airport and landed in it back at Orcas Island. After landing on the island, Colton decided to move away from his usual run of mill home burglaries and decided to break into a grocery store stealing thousands of dollars in cash. He also left chalk drawn footprints in the store and the media decided to call him “ The Barefoot Bandit” and at the end of the chalk drawn trail he left a taunting message for authorities: “C-Ya!”

At this point, police were becoming outsmarted by a kid so they brought in agents from the FBI and Homeland Security to help search for Colton all over the island. On the morning of May 30, 2010 a note and $100 cash was found on the door of a veterinary clinic. The note read, “Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals — Colton Harris-Moore (AKA: The Barefoot Bandit).” Now Colton could’ve done this as a kind gesture but he probably did it by sticking it to the police and federal officers by saying “you can’t catch me.” One the same day Colton ended up stealing a racing boat and drove all the way towards Oregon. On his way he spoke with an attorney over the phone to sell his life story for a potential movie.

After arriving in Oregon, he did his usual burglaries and one day Colton got bored and decided to steal a car and drive all the way to Yankton, South Dakota. Arriving late in the night, he began camping out a few houses to which ones had cars in the driveway. Once he had found one he had broken in and got comfortable he ate some food, washed his clothes, and got ready to take a shower. At 3 am, the Clark family arrived at home from a long vacation. As the father entered the home he noticed something was off, lights were on, the TV was on, along with food on the counter. As he crept farther into the house he saw the bathroom slightly open with the light and Colton jumped out and sprinted out of the door and ran to the basement. The father left once Colton was locked in and called the police. Police arrived in mere minutes and the police thought they had Colton trapped in a box. Once the police entered the home and searched every nook and cranny for over an hour…Colton was gone. Colton was able to get his clothes and bag and slipped out of a small window in the basement and broke into the neighbors house stealing their car keys and drove off. 

The police and federal agents knew Colton’s past behavior so agents began holding meetings with every private plane owner in all of the surrounding states warning them of Colton. For about a week, Colton was camping in the woods of the Monroe County Airport in South Dakota. On July 4, 2010, Colton stole a Cessna 400, a plane that is worth around $700,000. Colton was planning to land in Cuba but was running out of gas and crash landed in the Bahamas. The aircraft was destroyed, but Colton had survived once again, and he traveled to the nearby fishing village surviving off of the food he stole from local stores and restaurants. 

Law enforcement locked down the island and wanted posters for Colton Harris-Moore were placed everywhere. Colton had stolen another speed boat and jetted across the water to Harbor Island thinking it would be a good spot to hide from the cops. When Colt got to the island he snuck into a hotel and was chased by security, but flashed a gun scaring guards off. The guards called the police and the police were determined to get it here. They had cops, agents, security guards, armed civilians, and the military combing the island searching for Colt. At 3:30 am on July 11, 2010, Colton stole another speedboat and the police gave chase to him on the ocean. Colton had eventually outran the police boats but had driven into a sandbar and he was trapped. Once the cops had caught up to Colton they shot out his engine so he couldn’t drive off. Colton realizing that this was his demise he pointed a gun to his threatening to take his own life. The officers were able to deescalate the situation by talking him out of it and he then raised his hands, surrendered, and admitted his defeat. 

Colton was wanted by the FBI, US Marshals, Homeland Security, dozens of police departments, Canadian Mounties, and the Bahamian Government. All of these organizations wanted Colton to pay for the crimes he had committed but, since the Bahamian had captured him, they had their first pick. So, they berated Colt around in a walk of shame. In the Bahamas Colton was looking at 4 burglaries, 3 boat thefts, possession of a loaded firearm, and firing at an officer. But, the Bahamian Police only had one charge, and that was not presenting his passport when entering the country so Colt was fined $300 for his crimes. Two days after being captured he was extradited from the Bahamas and sent to Miami, Florida. 

During his trial, American prosecutors had to rack up 67 felonies in three different countries and neatly wrap this all up together in one court trial. Colton was staring down the barrel of 20-30 years in prison. Now the prosecutors had done the math and calculated the restitution for the planes, cars, homes, and the search operations at a staggering $1.4 million dollars. Colt eventually sold his life story to 20th Century Fox for $1.4 million dollars which all went towards his restitution. Colt was prohibited from making a penny from his story no matter if it was a book, shirt, or video game was made about him he couldn’t see any of that money. The courts wanted Colton to know that his crimes would never pay. Colton ‘s attorneys showed to the jury and judge that Colton really had a tough home life, his mother never fed him, he never paid for child support, and his mother drank through her pregnancy being diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. Colt even said he would go to college and study aeronautical engineering to get his life together. The jury and judge felt sympathetic towards the teen and the judge stated “I think this case is a tragedy but also a triumph of the human spirit, I sympathize with the defendant for his terrible upbringing, that he had, it was tragedy that he had to steal food, to endure an alcoholic and abusive mother but nevertheless the sentence is six years, and I wish him well.”

Today in 2024, we have not heard much from Colt besides a few interviews he has spoken about how he has hated his past and wants to move on. Unfortunately, Colton knows he will never be able to have a normal life because of his past actions as a teenager. Since his most recent interview in 2019, Colton has erased all of his social media accounts and has gone completely off the grid.

About the Contributor
Cristian Foschini, Staff Writer
Hi, my name is Cristian Foschini. I am currently a senior attending Hawthorne High School. This is my first year writing for the Clarion and I am very eager and excited to write for the school newspaper this year. I am also striving to be a journalist as my future job. I love to play golf and I am currently on the HHS Varsity Golf Team. Some of my interests and hobbies are sports, writing, driving, and movies.