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What Makes "Barefoot Bandit" Colton Harris-Moore So Elusive?

Colton Harris-Moore, aka "The Barefoot Bandit," has been on the run since April 2008, when he escaped from a group home south of Seattle, after pleading guilty to burglary as a juvenile. Since then, authorities believe the 19-year-old has been responsible for dozens of break-ins. Police also believe he has taken four planes, luxury cars and power boats. AP Photo

Colton Harris-Moore (CBS)
NEW YORK (CBS) For the past two years, two months and counting - since he climbed out the window of a juvenile detention hall -- no one has been able to capture Colton Harris-Moore, the 19-year-old fugitive from the state of Washington.

PICTURES: Barefoot Bandit on the Run

During that time, he allegedly has broken into dozens (some say more than a hundred) of homes, burglarized many businesses (some more than once), stolen several cars and boats, and most sensationally managed to fly four single-engine airplanes without any formal training.

That's quite a crime wave for anyone, never mind a kid still not out of his teens. Colton has hardly been laying low. He's currently in the midst of an alleged stolen car spree that has spanned eight states from Washington to Illinois where he was last spotted about a week ago.

So why can't ad/i/tim//2010/

Colton Harris-Moore, aka "The Barefoot Bandit," has been on the run since April 2008, when he escaped from a group home south of Seattle, after pleading guilty to burglary as a juvenile. Since then, authorities believe the 19-year-old has been responsible for dozens of break-ins. Police also believe he has taken four planes, luxury cars and power boats.
Colton Harris-Moore (CBS)
nyone catch him?

The simple answer is that almost no one is looking for him.

It's easy for the public to get the idea that, during such a spree, an intense manhunt must be underway. There are reports in the press of bounty hunters and reward money, but the truth is that there is no single law enforcement authority out there hunting Colton from state to state. (The one bounty hunter who said he was looking for the Colton is back in Washington.)

Basically, when the so-called "Barefoot Bandit" turns up in a place where there is evidence linking him to a crime, the police there begin to get busy.

That's what happened this week when the local police in Norfolk, Neb. issued an arrest warrant for Colton. Thanks to a security videotape in an airport office, police in the state of  Washington - the cops who know Colton the best - told their colleagues in Norfolk that the man in the video was most likely Colton.

Footprints Allegedly Drawn by Harris-Moore (CBS)
Footprints Allegedly Drawn by Harris-Moore (CBS)
Kyle Ater/48 Hours | Mystery
But Harris-Moore is not in Norfolk anymore, or at least no one thinks he is. That was three towns back. Since then, he's been in two different towns in Iowa and most recently, Dallas City, Ill., in Hancock County. Since then, the trail has gone cold.

Hancock County Sheriff John Jefferson, a sincere man who seems to want to catch Colton, says he has a nine man force, and they are looking out for Colton "on regular patrols." Jefferson says he has put the word out in the local media and has gotten back a lot of false sightings.

The FBI is not much interested in Colton because he has not hurt anyone. His crimes, if he is guilty, are property crimes and that does not get the feds too excited.

The most intense manhunt for Colton happened back in March of this year on Orcas Island, Washington. Acting on what they felt was a good tip, several local sheriff departments, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security closed in on Colton near Turtleback Mountain. There were helicopters sent up and dogs sent out.

But Colton got away....leaving his telltale bare footprints behind in the mud.

The legal authorities are also stymied by chasing a criminal so off the grid. Colton has no car to call his own, no home, no cell phone, no credit cards. He allegedly steals cash. He doesn't even have a driver's license, or any sort of formal identification.

Authorities do believe he has a laptop computer but he accesses the internet when he must and moves on, not establishing a dedicated IP address. He seems to be acting alone and not trusting anyone. When he does, that might be his undoing.

He will be caught but it's anyone's guess when that will be.

Complete Coverage of "The Barefoot Bandit" on Crimesider.

  • Paul LaRosa

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