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The Barefoot Bandit, "Man on the Run"

Nineteen-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, the alleged serial burglar and thief given the moniker “the Barefoot Bandit,” has apparently become the “D.B. Cooper” of his day. Many will remember “Cooper” as the alias of the otherwise unidentified man who hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 enroute from Portland to Seattle on November 24, 1971. On that rainy and overcast evening Cooper paid $18.52 for his one-way ticket and sat in seat 18C on the Boeing 727. Shortly after the flight took off he gave a flight attendant a note indicating he had a bomb and was hijacking the plane. Over the next few hours the plane landed in Seattle, took on Cooper’s demanded $200,000 extortion payment and four parachutes and took off again. A few minutes after 8 PM Cooper lowered the rear stairway of the plane as it flew over remote SW Washington State where he climbed down the stairs and jumped into a lightless night, never to be seen again. And while nine years later an 8-year-old boy would find $5,880 in $20 bills, identified as part of Cooper’s original $200k, stuck in the mud and sand along the bank of the Columbia River, no evidence was ever found to indicate who Dan (aka) “DB Cooper” really was, or what ultimately became of him and the remainder of his stolen loot. This incident still ranks as the world's only unsolved airline hijacking.

Harris-Moore is called “the Barefoot Bandit” because when committing some of his crimes he was said to be shoeless. He has, in some ways, become the kind of anti-hero that many have believed DB Cooper to have been. Both rebelled against the rules of society while neither, at least to date with Harris-Moore, has injured anyone. Due to his age and his massive Internet following, Harris-Moore has become a folk hero in the way of Clyde Barrow of 1934 Bonnie and Clyde fame, although most everyone hopes he is able to avoid the fate that Clyde did met. His mom suggests she is proud of him, referring to his alleged offenses “as kind of neat,” while suggesting he violated her rules when he stole a single engine vs. a twin engine airplane (by this suggesting he’d be safer in a twin engine plane equipped with a “DB Cooper-style” parachute on his back.) Her hope for her son is that he flees to a country that will not extradite him back to America.

Harris-Moore seems to be both lucky and rather adapt at what he does, steal from others that is, but with his first conviction for theft coming at the early age of 12, he has, what to some is a wealth of criminal experience behind him. For most criminals, even the young ones, if not captured right away their incidents of crime get strung together as they get better and better at their chosen avocation, adapting and growing more and more bold, a trait that many times leads to his eventual arrest. As a budding sociopath, he had a number of other juvenile arrests before he was finally sentenced to four years for a house burglary. After transferring to a halfway house over two years ago, he managed to “escape” through an open window on April 29, 2008, and has been on the lam, and on the prowl, ever since.

Harris-Moore has allegedly committed at least 50 or more residential and business burglaries since his escape, has stolen a few cars, trucks and boats, and, after learning to fly an airplane by using a computer simulator, he has managed to steal and fly away in a number of planes. Just this week he allegedly stole a single engine Cessna airplane in Indiana and flew it over 1,000 miles to the Bahamas, where he crash landed it along a remote stretch of beach on the small island of Great Abaco. He evidently walked away from what has become his usual “less than perfect landing,” this as surveillance cameras later captured his image while he was burglarizing a bar in Great Abaco’s Marsh Harbour, (population 5,800 with one traffic light), one of at least eight crimes linked to him since his arrival there. And while local law enforcement officers in the Bahamas, assisted by the FBI, are seeking their man on the run, he may be able to use his knowledge of the outdoors to hide in the countryside. He could also simply blend in with the visiting sailors on the small island currently awash with outsiders who are there for a sailing regatta, or, perhaps he could try to steal another airplane, or one of the many boats on the island in his bid to once again escape the long arm of the law.

Many bloggers, noting the young fugitive has over 20,000 followers on his Facebook page alone, are cheering him on, this almost guaranteeing that once captured, his life will be immortalized in book and movie form, bringing him far more money than his crimes during his extended flight from justice could ever bring him. My fear for him is that he will encounter a frightened and armed home owner, or make the wrong move when confronted by law enforcement and that the end of his story will be something other than the perfect movie-like ending that most want to see. At 19 and possible trapped on a remote island; it would seem that his days as a Robin Hood-like character may soon come to a close. But again, after serving a brief stint in jail and with a few million bucks in his pocket from selling his book and movie rights, he could be off on new adventures that will have many, like in the case of DB Cooper, continuing to say “Run Colton, Run.”

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