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The Barefoot Burglar
October 8, 2009 9:00 AM   Subscribe

An 18-year-old outlaw in Washington State had been a police target for years. He's now really into stealing and crashing planes, and of course has a Facebook Fan Page. He evades the police by disappearing into the woods, Robin Hood-style.
posted by jasonsmall (65 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sounds like a healthy, well-adjusted young man. People are right to laud him and his good works.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:09 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


That "stealing and crashing planes" hobby seems unsustainable.
posted by ghharr at 9:09 AM on October 8, 2009 [16 favorites]


"authorities are testing vomit found in the cockpit of one plane "

You can't really dust for vomit.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:10 AM on October 8, 2009 [24 favorites]


Heh. GTA San Juan Islands kid is awesome. And really fucking annoying if you live out there, I'd bet. Possibly a 100ft long chain discretely padlocked to the back of a tempting looking airplane would be a solution.
posted by Artw at 9:11 AM on October 8, 2009


CNNfilter.
Discuss.
posted by geekyguy at 9:14 AM on October 8, 2009


I hesitated slightly before putting this into the "pro" column in my ongoing internal debate as to whether or not I would enjoy having a Facebook account.
posted by adipocere at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


That "stealing and crashing planes" hobby seems unsustainable.

Makes me think of Orr, in Catch 22. That, or Launchpad McQuack.
posted by permafrost at 9:20 AM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


It just confirms everything videogames have taught me regarding the relative difficulties of taking off and landing planes.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on October 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


Harris-Moore, Harris-Moore
Hiding in the trees,
Soon every Cesna in the land
will be in by his mighty hand
He steals them from the rich
And crashes them to the ground,
Harris-Moore, Harris-Moore, Harris-Moore.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2009 [13 favorites]


Taking off is easy, Artw. So is landing.... once. :)
posted by Malor at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flying small planes is fairly straight forward. All one would need is the interest, the internet and a few planes they didn't mind damaging.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:30 AM on October 8, 2009


Well, if he levels up to include some good cons instead of just theft, it'll probably be able to land himself a job with Frank Abagnale.
posted by zizzle at 9:30 AM on October 8, 2009


here I have to question why we are giving this idiot more press here on mefi... facebook isn't enough??? Is this any more than "stupid delinquent filter"

moving on
posted by HuronBob at 9:34 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


We're giving him more press because crashing planes is cool.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:38 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno Bob. Something about a 12 year old eluding police for months...and then perpetually escaping them as a young adult....hiding from blackhawk helicopters, photographing himself with a stolen camera...it's a little, I don't know, romantic.

Count me as one of those jaded bitter fucks who thinks there are far worse crimes than stealing toys from the fabulously wealthy with vacant homes in the woods of the northeast.

Not apologizing for him...I can see the draw. My friend tells me there will be a movie of it soon, apparently Fark beat us to this story yesterday.
posted by TomMelee at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2009 [16 favorites]


I agree with TomMelee on this one. Condoning his behavior? Nah, but there is definitely a "romantic" element about this. And people wonder why we can't find Bin Laden! Ha!
posted by deacon_blues at 9:46 AM on October 8, 2009


apparently Fark beat us to this story yesterday

It's not a race.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2009


Regardless of how you feel about this kid, the one thing everyone should agree on is:

Fucking stupid local cops; fooled by a cocky teenager.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this any more than "stupid delinquent filter"

It's definitely giving me ideas for Barefoot Burglar / Hipster Grifter crossover fanfiction.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:50 AM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


I do not condone this young man's thievery but I do think it is STRAIGHT JAWSOME
posted by Greg Nog at 9:50 AM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Colt" Harris-Moore sets the flaps to 40 and tells the fuzz to Eat My Dust!
posted by chambers at 9:51 AM on October 8, 2009


After reading the FPP and its setup I clicked on the story links expecting this thief to be some kind of animal, like a bear who somehow knew how to fly a plane or maybe a dog that could hit the ignition or I dunno. Was disappointed, but only slightly.
posted by Spatch at 9:53 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can't really dust for vomit.

Umm, cedar chips?

I am slightly curious what exactly they're testing for. Drugs/alcohol? DNA? Dietary needs? Favorite foods?

Scene: A courtroom, a lawyer holds up two full ziploc bags in front of the bench.

Lawyer: You honor here we have people's evidence K and L. In this bag is the defendant's favorite food, Cheetos. And in this bag we have evidence recovered from the crash scene...

The judge leans in to examine the two baggies and immediately runs out of the room gagging.

Lawyer: Okay, maybe I should have handled this differently...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:02 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, kid should sign up to the military. He'd be very suited to escape and evasion special forces stuff - the evasion of a police department and heat scanners is rather a good calling card. Adrenaline, too.
posted by jaduncan at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2009


CNNfilter.Discuss.
no, kthxbye.

Flying small planes is fairly straight forward.
wow. I wouldn't be surprised to learn he flew with his pitot tubes covered. calling this straight forward is like calling teenagers invincible. it may feel like it but that doesn't make it true.

it's a little, I don't know, romantic.
I was disappointed to see you are not a girl.
posted by krautland at 10:10 AM on October 8, 2009


Nice!
"His mother said she doesn’t see anything wrong with what he’s suspected of doing....'I hope to hell he stole those airplanes — I would be so proud,' Pam Kohler told a reporter, noting her son’s lack of training. 'But put in there that I want him to wear a parachute next time.'

....His home is a tarp-covered, single-wide trailer surrounded by tall cedar trees and decommissioned pickup trucks....The teenager’s mother recently greeted a reporter and photographer by promising to chase them off the property with a shotgun. Then she granted a lengthy interview."
posted by ericb at 10:19 AM on October 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


From the Facebook group:

"Colton Harris-Moore is Western Washington's new Jesse James (without the murders). Without a doubt one of the greatest and most notable outlaws to come from an otherwise shitty, boring area."

:( Guyyyss this is why we need to make communities which don't freakin' suck.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2009


He's obviously pretty smart. He should use those base skills and make something of himself instead of an 18 year old on the run with no future but jail.

The little punk should apply for the CIA or the next James Bond. :)
posted by stormpooper at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2009


For the people wanting him to join the military or the CIA...they generally don't take felons.

Also, I don't this is very Robin Hoodish. It's not like the dude is feeding the hungry or anything.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I heard his mom being interviewed on the island county public radio station the other day... straight up CRAZYINSANE.
posted by AaronRaphael at 10:44 AM on October 8, 2009


"I heard his mom being interviewed on the island county public radio station the other day... straight up CRAZYINSANE."

Who would have thought?
posted by deacon_blues at 10:48 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is he D.B.Cooper's illegitimate love-child? Cooper's wacky, mishap-prone apprentice in crime?
posted by hattifattener at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Like Robin Hood without all the, you know, being a good guy.

Still, if the last 300 years of literature has taught us anything, it's that if a bad guy has a good press department, who gives a shit about the good guys?
posted by 256 at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


It just confirms everything videogames have taught me regarding the relative difficulties of taking off and landing planes.

I'm imagining his "How To Fly Planes" book being blown out of his hands just as he turns to the chapter on landing.
posted by brundlefly at 10:56 AM on October 8, 2009


"For the people wanting him to join the military or the CIA...they generally don't take felons."

That was once true, yes. Not kept up with US Army recruitment waivers recently? It's not like recruiters are finding it very difficult to get them.
posted by jaduncan at 10:57 AM on October 8, 2009


And because it's mefi and You're Worth It(tm), cite for waivers is here in the NYT.

"Strained by the demands of a long war, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps recruited significantly more felons into their ranks in 2007 than in 2006, including people convicted of armed robbery, arson and burglary, according to data released by a House committee.

The number of waivers issued to active-duty army recruits with felony convictions jumped to 511 in 2007, from 249 in 2006. Marine recruits with felony convictions rose to 350 from 208."
posted by jaduncan at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2009


I wonder if he can fly a NASA spacecraft.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2009


For the people wanting him to join the military or the CIA...they generally don't take felons.

So you're saying politician?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2009


Krautland, this "romantic". Its meaning is not limited to what I think you think it is.
posted by TomMelee at 11:07 AM on October 8, 2009


authorities are testing vomit found in the cockpit of one plane

If it does well it can go to college.
posted by srboisvert at 11:21 AM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


apparently Fark beat us to this story yesterday

It's not a race.


By entering a race with Drew Curtis' FARK, we've already lost.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2009


It's an interesting story, but I think—like Jesse James—it's getting exaggerated and romanticized in the retelling. I don't see any "Robin Hood" here, just a more-charming-than-average kleptomaniac and a revolving-door system for juvenile delinquents.

Most of his "escapes" from custody involved just walking away from low-security halfway houses or youth-detention facilites, or skipping out on bail.

The flying part is impressive, but as others have pointed out, it's not clear that it's beyond the capabilities of the average person if you don't care about flying the plane again and are willing to take great risks. (Also, at least in the CNN article, there's some skepticism that the 'mystery pilot' is actually him; it could be unrelated and he could have stolen boats to move from one island to another.)

Frankly I think the whole thing is sad, really; it sounds like the kid has some serious issues and the system completely let him down, over and over. There's really no out for him at this point. The problem with living as an outlaw is that you don't get to come back, except in chains, and then only to go to prison.

He'll probably continue to get away with things as long as he's just an annoyance; that's all the occasional property crime and credit card fraud really is — someone has to put in a claim to their insurance, or call their bank to report a bunch of bad charges, but the costs are being externalized on big entities for whom it's not really a big deal. But when he graduates to more serious crime, someone will finally decide to throw enough resources at him to end his career.

Or, worse yet, eventually he'll get sloppy and wander into a house that's not really empty, and he'll end up dead.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:37 AM on October 8, 2009


Those planes were sorely needed! To transport medical supplies to trapped families in disaster areas! To facilitate regional commerce! To drop water on fires! To....

Wait. They were used for what?

OK, fine, he endangered several people and needs to go to jail. I'm not going to cry over the conversion of rich-boy toy into awesome story, though.
posted by gurple at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2009


Stole and crashed several airplanes? No mercy, he must die! And slowly!

But seriously, half the pilots I know live under the poverty line and make sacrifices so they can continue to fly. How many of you who won't be shedding any tears for "rich-boy toys" eat ramen for dinner on a regular basis?

I might have some sympathy for him if he sold his loot and gave the proceeds to the poor, but this guy is just a vandal with no style.
posted by phliar at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't approve morally, but from a story standpoint it's pretty awesome.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:55 PM on October 8, 2009


But seriously, half the pilots I know live under the poverty line and make sacrifices so they can continue to fly. How many of you who won't be shedding any tears for "rich-boy toys" eat ramen for dinner on a regular basis?

Rich-boy toys aren't only for the rich. They're also for people who want to bankrupt themselves trying to seem rich.

I've known people like the pilots you describe -- who are almost junkie-like in their pursuit of flight hours. That's their prerogative -- I'm certainly not saying that they deserve to have their planes stolen. No one does.

But the planes are still rich-boy toys, regardless of who's flying them.
posted by gurple at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2009


It would be incredibly fun to take a picture of your face ... right after realizing ... that the kid you let sleep on your couch because you thought it would be cool to help out the Northwest "Robin Hood" ... just stole your TV and pawned it for meth money.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:15 PM on October 8, 2009


Count me as one of those jaded bitter fucks who thinks there are far worse crimes than stealing toys from the fabulously wealthy with vacant homes in the woods of the northeast.

I'm not going to cry over the conversion of rich-boy toy

Ah well then, as long as he's only doing this to people who are richer than you, it's okay.
posted by Zinger at 1:31 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


In 2008, a deputy said he spotted Harris-Moore in a stolen Mercedes-Benz, but he lost the suspect when he allegedly dove from the moving vehicle.

Well, of course the deputy lost Harris-Moore. Why did the deputy think it was a good idea to leave his vehicle mid-chase, and in such a haphazard manner? I'm no cop, but Johnny Utah type shit like that seems unreasonably risky.

I'm kidding, of course. Just hate lazy pronoun usage.
posted by joechip at 1:36 PM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ah well then, as long as he's only doing this to people who are richer than you, it's okay.

You must have ignored the part of my post where I explicitly said it wasn't OK.

Also: my diamonds! My diamonds!
posted by gurple at 1:41 PM on October 8, 2009



Ah well then, as long as he's only doing this to people who are richer than you, it's okay.

You must have ignored the part of my post where I explicitly said it wasn't OK.


What you said was that okay, he endangered some lives and needs to go to jail. But your comment and the other I quoted implied that without that aspect, it's okay to swipe stuff from "the rich."

And given the state of the economy in the US, I can kind of understand the sentiment. But it's not a bad idea to remember that if your place was broken into and your [microwave/refrigerator/tv/computer/transportation] was swiped and smashed, there's a very large percentage of the world's population that might think, "Yes! Fucking rich bastard. I'm not going to cry about it, that's for sure."
posted by Zinger at 1:51 PM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


But your comment and the other I quoted implied that without that aspect, it's okay to swipe stuff from "the rich."

Well, I also said That's their prerogative -- I'm certainly not saying that they deserve to have their planes stolen. No one does.

I'm with you on your general law-and-order principle. I'm glad people don't steal things from me, and the same laws and enforcement that protect me protect the people I consider wealthy.

But if someone did steal something from me, I'd rather it was something with a purely recreational use. Steal my surfing wetsuit, not my bike.
posted by gurple at 1:56 PM on October 8, 2009


I wonder what it is about cops not being able to catch people jumping out of cars. I used to work with a guy who told me he had escaped a car chase in a stolen car by jumping out while it was moving. I can't imagine driver-less cars generally make it very far after their occupants exit.
posted by ghharr at 1:57 PM on October 8, 2009


But the planes are still rich-boy toys, regardless of who's flying them.

Sometimes they are rich-girl toys.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:03 PM on October 8, 2009


Sometimes they are rich-girl toys.

Well-phrased. About 15% of the time, it's true, they are.
posted by gurple at 2:09 PM on October 8, 2009


But the planes are still rich-boy toys, regardless of who's flying them.

Even when it's an angel flight for a donor organ?
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:09 PM on October 8, 2009


Even when it's an angel flight for a donor organ?

There's some good in just about every large entity, I guess.
posted by gurple at 2:15 PM on October 8, 2009


It would be incredibly fun to take a picture of your face ... right after realizing ... that the kid you let sleep on your couch because you thought it would be cool to help out the Northwest "Robin Hood" ... just stole your TV and pawned it for meth money.

Wait, my face? I'm going to have to charge you a dollar for that.
posted by jasonsmall at 2:44 PM on October 8, 2009


Rich-boy toys aren't only for the rich. They're also for people who want to bankrupt themselves trying to seem rich.

What exactly is your point? That people who like activity X to an extent beyond what some would consider reasonable or prudent are just trying to seem rich?

Does this also apply to (say) musicians?
posted by phliar at 3:14 PM on October 8, 2009


The owner of the airplane may have been Seattle classic rock DJ Bob Rivers.
posted by Tube at 4:51 PM on October 8, 2009


He's obviously pretty smart. He should use those base skills and make something of himself instead of an 18 year old on the run with no future but jail

Well, yeah. It's a reference problem; people tend to strive for the greatest successes they see around them when they grow up, because that's what they believe is possible...but if you grow up in a shitty dead-end town with no opportunities, you strive for the kinds of things you see on television. Which of those things you aim for depends largely on your own personal capabilities, and on the artificial behavior limits your parents impose...and which this kid's parents most certainly failed to impose.
posted by davejay at 7:40 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]




I'm surprised anyone was naming their offspring "Colton" 18 years ago. I thought that was strictly a recent naming phenomenon, along with Braxton, Ashton, etc.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:06 AM on October 9, 2009


I'm surprised anyone was naming their offspring "Colton" 18 years ago. I thought that was strictly a recent naming phenomenon, along with Braxton, Ashton, etc.

Colton gets shortened to "Colt," which is the name of a firearms company, of course. Colton is a perfect example of a white-trash Washington name. If you haven't spent any time here to know it, despite the presence of Seattle and the college-town smoothing that comes from Olympia and Bellingham, large parts of Washington may as well have been lifted straight out of Alabama and Arkansas.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:32 AM on October 9, 2009


I'm surprised anyone was naming their offspring "Colton" 18 years ago. I thought that was strictly a recent naming phenomenon, along with Braxton, Ashton, etc.

Ashton Kutcher must be in his 30's by now, and an Ashtan I know personally is in his mid-20's. Weird names are not new.
posted by biggity at 6:22 PM on October 9, 2009


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