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Sirens & Gavels

Teen bandit may have stolen boat to escape

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (AP) — A teen fugitive from Washington who has successfully eluded teams of local police and FBI agents may have slipped off the island where he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane nearly a week ago, police said today.

Authorities are investigating a report that Colton Harris-Moore, dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit,” has fled Great Abaco Island and was spotted on Eleuthera, about 40 miles to the south, two police officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the search. Bahamian National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest declined to comment.

It was unclear how the 19-year-old fugitive might have escaped the island, but a powerboat was stolen in Marsh Harbour.

The 44-foot boat was reported missing Thursday from the marina on Great Abaco Island, said Harry Mountain, a regional manager for The Moorings hotel and marina resort in Marsh Harbour.

The teen already is accused in a federal complaint of stealing a small plane from the Boundary County Airport last fall.

Investigators have been searching the 120-mile-long, boomerang-shaped island for Harris-Moore since he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane in a marsh at its southern tip Sunday.

Working with the FBI, island soldiers and police have also been patrolling ports and airports to cut off potential escape routes for the wily convict, accused of dozens of burglaries in the U.S.

The marina where the boat was stolen is next door to a restaurant, Curly Tails, where the teen was allegedly caught on surveillance footage during a break-in about 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Police were investigating at least six other burglaries stretching from the island’s southern point to Marsh Harbour, a town of about 5,500 people.

About a dozen boats are stolen from the area each year, mostly by drug traffickers who target those with powerful outboard engines, said boat renter Tim Roberts. The latest theft, however, involved a cruiser with an inboard engine — a boat resembling one which Harris-Moore allegedly stole while fleeing the law in the United States.

Harris-Moore, who grew up in the woods of Washington state’s Camano Island, has been on the run since escaping from a halfway house more than two years ago. The teen had several run-ins with police by the time he was 13 and is suspected of stealing cars, boats and at least five planes during his run, despite no formal flight training.

Harris-Moore earned the “Barefoot Bandit” nickname because he allegedly went shoeless for some of his crimes and once left behind chalk footprints as his calling card.


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