NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Colton Harris-Moore, a Washington teen who has frustrated and eluded local detectives after a string of brazen, but sometimes comical burglaries on Orcas Island, has fostered a small community on Facebook that has begun to romanticize the wayward young man.
A Seattle man, Adin Stevens, even started selling T-shirts bearing Harris-Moore's picture and the words "Momma Tried."
Another site sells "Fly Colt Fly" shirts making reference to Harris-Moore's repeated alleged attempts to steal then fly small planes even though he doesn't have a pilot's license. Each time he has allegedly crash landed.
Orcas Island is located three hours north of Seattle.
But local law enforcement officials haven't been amused.
Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, whose office has dealt with Harris-Moore at least since he was 11, said he recently blew up at a "Today" show producer who wanted to ask him about the made-for-Hollywood aspect of the story.
Some have compared Harris-Moore to the Leonardo DiCaprio character in "Catch Me If You Can."
Like the film, police say Harris-Moore seems to have pulled off some unusually gutsy crimes including couch surfing in unoccupied vacation homes and more recently stealing small planes from rural airports and then crash-landing them.
There were bare footprints inside and outside some airplane hangars that had been broken into. In one, police said, footprints were on the wall, indicating that the suspect put his feet up, apparently while eating.
He earned himself the nickname of "the barefoot burglar" by committing some of his crimes without wearing shoes.
Each time police believe they have him in their sites, he seems to vanish.
"He virtually vaporized in front of me," Deputy Jeff Patterson recalled of one encounter in which Harris-Moore was caught in beam of his flashlight one moment and gone the next.
Some local residents are frustrated and wonder how hard it is to find a 6-foot-5, 200-pound teenager in the confines of an island.
Harris-Moore is suspected in about 50 burglary cases since April 2008, when he slipped out of a halfway house.
MORE ON CRIMESIDER
October 7, 2009 - Colton Harris-Moore: "Catch Me If You Can" Teen Eludes Detectives