SEATTLE (AP) — Police in the Midwest are investigating whether an infamous teen burglar from Washington state is behind a string of break-ins and car thefts, officials said Monday. Colton Harris-Moore, a 6-foot-5 19-year-old from Camano Island, Wash., escaped from a halfway house south of Seattle in April 2008.
Since then, authorities believe he's been responsible for numerous burglaries at vacation homes and businesses around the Northwest, and that he's stolen boats, cars and even a few small airplanes, including one from the Boundary County Airport in North Idaho.
A family in Yankton, S.D., found a tall man in their home last Friday, Assistant Police Chief Jerry Hisek said. They didn't get a good look at him because the house was dark, and the family couldn't identify Harris-Moore in photos. But the suspect did shave or cut his hair at the home, and investigators have sent that evidence to a state crime lab for DNA analysis, Hisek said.
A car stolen from Yankton turned up 60 miles south at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk, Neb., on Sunday, said Norfolk Police Capt. Steven Hecker. Another car — a Cadillac Escalade — was taken from Karl Stefan Memorial Airport nearby and turned up 240 miles east, in Pella, Iowa, on Monday.
Another car was taken from a small airport near Pella, Hecker said.
The Pella Police Department declined to comment on Monday, and Hecker said authorities don't know whether the suspect is Harris-Moore.
"We weren't familiar with this guy, but we certainly are now," Hecker said.
The last trace of Harris-Moore in Washington state was over Memorial Day weekend, when he left $100 at a veterinary clinic in the southwestern town of Raymond along with a note that said: "Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals Colton Harris-Moore (AKA: 'The Barefoot Bandit') Camano Island, WA."
Harris-Moore, who has more than 41,000 Facebook fans, earned the moniker by committing some of his crimes barefoot. Police confirmed his fingerprints were on the note.
Police in Oregon are investigating whether Harris-Moore is to blame for a series of crimes on June 1, when a stolen boat from southwestern Washington turned up in Warrenton, Ore.
A car was stolen from a nearby airport later that day.
"Seems like he's always a day or two ahead of us," Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said Monday. "His luck'll run out."