And they've blocked all routes he could possibly use to get off the island, Assistant Royal Bahamas Police Commissioner Hulan Hanna tells CBS News.
The single-engine Cessna crashed on the Great Abaco Island Sunday with no witnesses -- just an emergency beacon alerting the Coast Guard -- and no sign of the pilot, reports CBS News Correspondent Kelly Cobiella.
Investigators believe it was none other than Colton Harris-Moore, the 19 year old brazen -- and barefoot thief no one seems capable of catching.
"Colton Harris Moore went from a regional nuisance to an international problem and we need to step up our efforts to get him," says FBI Special Agent Steven Dean.
Investigators pursuing Harris-Moore say they've been tracking a trail of break-ins from the southern tip Abaco to the town of Marsh Harbour, 50 miles away, where he was recognized on surveillance footage of a restaurant burglary.
A police bulletin warns the teen should be considered armed and dangerous.
Bahamian police have launched an all-out manhunt. "We feel as if, the direction in which we're headed, we should be able to take him down and have him in custody in the quickest time," says Royal Bahamas Police Assistant Commissioner Hulan Hanna.
"I don't know if he was going to the Bahamas to flee prosecution, necessarily. … He may just be continuing his crime sprees," says the FBI's Dean.
Back in the U.S., he's become a folk hero of sorts, with a fan club hawking T-shirts emblazoned with his image, songs about his exploits. and tens of thousands of followers on Facebook.
At 16, says Cobiella, Harris-Moore was already a serial burglar. He escaped from a halfway house outside Seattle in April 2008. Authorities say he's burglarized 100 homes, stolen boats, cars, even five planes worth more than $2 million.
His suspected crime spree spans at least five states and parts of Canada, prompting comparisons to the movie "Catch Me if You Can."
Great Abaco is the largest of dozens of small islands and cays that are part of the sprawling Bahamas archipelago east of Florida. The island of 16,000 people is small, but its dense clusters of trees provide good cover for a proven outdoorsman like Harris-Moore.
Crowds of visiting tourists in town for an annual regatta may also make it easier for the fugitive to escape notice.
"Around here, everyone knows everyone else. But there's a whole lot of sailors in town, and he could easily slip in with them," said Dave Gonin, a Canadian-born architect who lives on the island.
National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest said local authorities were working with the FBI, which posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to Harris-Moore's capture.
"If he is there to be caught our police will catch him," Turnquest said.
Assistant Superintendent Hulan Hanna said police believed the fugitive was still on Great Abaco.
Harris-Moore grew up in the woods of Camano Island in Puget Sound, about 30 miles north of Seattle. His mother has said he displayed a love of thieving at a young age.
His first conviction -- for possession of stolen property -- came at age 12. Within a few months of turning 13, he had three more. Each brought a 10-day stint in detention or community service.
In 2007, he was sentenced to nearly four years in juvenile detention after being caught in an unoccupied home when a neighbor noticed the lights on. But he did well enough at the detention center that he was transferred to a halfway house, where he sneaked out of an open window more than two years ago.
He has since been linked to dozens of burglaries.
During the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, a plane that may have been stolen by Harris-Moore skirted a flight zone set up for the event. It never entered restricted airspace during its erratic journey, helping the pilot evade authorities.
He was pinned with the nickname "Barefoot Bandit" for allegedly committing some crimes while shoeless.
Pam Kohler, Harris-Moore's mother, said she wasn't surprised her son might be able to make the 1,000-mile flight from where the plane was stolen in Bloomington, Ind., to the Bahamas after teaching himself how to fly.
She has publicly defended her son, and claims the allegations against him are exaggerated. She told The Associated Press she would have preferred he fled to a country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States.
"The furthest he gets from the U.S., the better," she said from her home on Camano Island in Washington state. "I'm glad he's able to enjoy beautiful islands, but they extradite. It doesn't help matters at all."
Kohler said she is worried about his safety.
"Colt is not to be flying a single engine-plane," she insisted, saying she was worried about engine failure. "When I heard that, that just upset me. The rules are he carries a parachute with him and he takes two-engine planes. Tell him he needs to call me."
On Elbow Cay, one of dozens of tiny islands scattered around Great Abaco Island, residents said they were being vigilant.
"We're keeping an eye out for him and just hoping he doesn't do anything crazy," said Valery McPhee, who runs a convenience store in the enclave of Hope Town.
On Orcas Island north of Seattle, which has been one of Harris-Moore's favorite stomping grounds in the past year, an official said he hoped news of the teenager's adventures abroad meant he wouldn't be coming back soon.
"Speaking on behalf of the business community, we're thrilled," Chamber of Commerce Director Lance Evans said. "We're hopeful that authorities anywhere he finds himself will catch him."