News

'Barefoot Burglar' named in string of burglaries, thefts on Orcas and San Juan islands

Top photo: According to KOMO 4 TV, Colton Harris-Moore left this self-portrait on a stolen digital memory card last year. Bottom photo: The San Juan County Sheriff
Top photo: According to KOMO 4 TV, Colton Harris-Moore left this self-portrait on a stolen digital memory card last year. Bottom photo: The San Juan County Sheriff's Department believes this is Colton Harris-Moore burglarizing Island Market in Eastsound.
— image credit: Contributed photos

By JENNIFER BRENNOCK
The Islands’ Sounder

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Department is looking for a Camano Island man in connection with a recent rash of burglaries and thefts on Orcas Island.

He is suspected in a series of crimes from last year as well.

After comparing security tapes from several crime scenes, authorities identified the suspect as Colton Harris-Moore, 18, of Camano Island. He is described as 6 feet 5 inches, 205 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. Harris-Moore has a scar on his left arm from a knife wound.

He is being called the Barefoot Burglar, because he is believed to have been barefoot during most of the crimes.

“We’ve been in discussion with Island County about a similar and extensive rash of burglaries over an extended period of time with a possible connection to what we’re seeing here,” Sheriff Bill Cumming said.

Harris-Moore is wanted in connection with an Aug. 28 burglary at Deer Harbor Marina; the September burglaries of Sunflower Cafe, Vern’s Bayside, Bilbo’s, Islanders Bank, Ace Hardware, and Island Market; the theft of two boats on Orcas Island; and the theft of a plane from Friday Harbor that was later hard-landed at the Port of Orcas.

On Sept. 12, the suspect ran from deputies in Eastsound after he was spotted.

Harris-Moore is also wanted in connection with an August 2008 burglary and theft at Vern’s Bayside, and the theft of a plane from a Port of Orcas hangar the same day. He is also a suspect in a residential burglary committed in September 2008.

According to Cumming, Harris-Moore has been connected to 20 to 30 burglaries in Island County, the Stanwood area in particular.

“We believe all those cases have elements compatible enough that they are related to our suspect,” Cumming said, explaining they needed further evidence. “We cannot physically tie him to the earlier plane theft, for example.”

The earlier plane Cumming referred to is a Cessna S-182 stolen from a locked port hangar the morning of Nov. 12, 2008. The aircraft was discovered later that morning abandoned in a closed area of the Yakama Nation reservation in eastern Washington.

The Sheriff’s Department has sent some biological evidence to a lab for a DNA comparison. Generally, lab tests are reserved for investigations of murder or rape, and not property crime, but due to the extensive nature of the burglaries, the sheriff is looking for all he can to identify a suspect in the San Juan County crimes.

Harris-Moore is wanted in connection with the theft of a boat from Brandt’s Landing on Sept. 13, later recovered in Point Roberts, which as an exclave of the United States is a border that wouldn’t be a large obstacle for a suspect to cross. Cumming speculates the suspect crossed into Canada.

Harris-Moore was convicted in June 2007 of three counts of residential burglary and was given three years confinement. He escaped from a group home in Renton on April 30, 2008 when he was still a juvenile.

Cumming said he originally wanted Harris-Moore to believe he hadn’t been identified to give him a false sense of security. The Sheriff’s Department is now taking a different approach.

“This young man has been prolific in his activity in a compressed period of time,” Cumming said.

Cumming advises anyone who has experienced a burglary to check their credit cards for unauthorized purchases.

“Part of his M.O. is to take credit card information, but leave the card,” he said. “He’s done this in Island County. People whose homes or businesses have been broken into should scrutinize their credit card bills carefully.”

Anyone with information about Harris-Moore’s whereabouts can call the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department, 378-4151.

Harris-Moore is well known to authorities in the region. Here are stories that have been written about him in regional media:

Seattle Times, July 26, 2008

KOMONews.com, July 24, 2008

Seattle Times, Feb. 11, 2007

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 3 edition online now. Browse the archives.