Sheriff: Search for Colton Harris-Moore scaled back to 'ongoing investigation'

The San Juan County Sheriff's Department issued this update Thursday at 4:11 p.m. regarding the search for burglary suspect Colton Harris-Moore:

The extensive, intense search for Colton Harris-Moore on Orcas Island has now been scaled back to an ongoing investigation. All available search indicators have been pursued through the efforts of a multi-agency team of county, mainland and federal personnel and assets.

Aggressive efforts to locate Harris-Moore will be continued by San Juan County Sheriff’s Office personnel and supporting agencies.

The search began at 1:15 a.m. on March 18 and was focused on the west side of Orcas Island. This is a very isolated and very rugged area where only a few homes are located. Ground and air access to the area was controlled. Reports of any suspicious person or activity were pursued. Resources from multiple mainland agencies were deployed. The intensified search activity was officially scaled down at 3 p.m. by Sheriff Bill Cumming.

The search was conducted by a team of 35 deputies, law enforcement personnel and support staff, two teams of specially trained man trackers, two tracking dogs and a helicopter equipped with advanced detection equipment. San Juan County Sheriff’s deputies on Orcas Island will continue the investigation and will also utilize the resources offered by surrounding, cooperating agencies. The assets involved in this search will remain close at hand and will be redeployed if the situation warrants.

“I acknowledge and thank the many agencies and personnel who responded in a most timely and professional manner to assist in this intense search,” Sheriff Bill Cumming said in the press release. “The residents of San Juan County and the local law enforcement staff greatly appreciate their efforts in support of this action and the continuing investigation.”

The 35-member search team, led by deputies from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, included Whatcom County and Snohomish County dog tracking teams, two five-member man tracking teams from the Marysville Police Department, FBI personnel, and air support from the US Customs and Border Protection Service. The Orcas Island Fire Department Auxiliary provided food for the search personnel.

Harris-Moore is wanted for multiple burglaries and thefts on Orcas Island. He is also wanted in connection with burglaries and thefts in Island and Snohomish counties.

This is an ongoing, multi-agency investigation involving both county and mainland-based law enforcement agencies. Therefore, no interviews and no additional, specific details of the search activity or the investigation will be available.

Suspected in three-year crime spree
Harris-Moore, 18, is described as 6 foot 3 inches, 205 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. He reportedly has a scar on his left arm from a knife wound.

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.

Since then, he is suspected of the following burglaries:

— Feb. 28, 2010: Orcas Island Hardware.

— Feb. 11, 2010: Orcas Homegrown Market and Gourmet Delicatessen.

— Sept. 13, 2009: Theft of a boat from Brandt’s Landing, later recovered in Point Roberts.

— September 2009: Ace Hardware, Bilbo’s, Island Market, Islanders Bank, Sunflower Cafe, Vern’s Bayside. Suspected of stealing two boats on Orcas Island and a plane from Friday Harbor that was later hard-landed at Eastsound Airport. On Sept. 12, the suspect eluded deputies in Eastsound after he was spotted and chased on foot.

— Aug. 28, 2009: Deer Harbor Marina.

— Nov. 12, 2008: Theft of a Cessna S-182 from a locked Eastsound Airport hangar. The plane was discovered later that morning abandoned in a closed area of the Yakama Nation reservation.

— September 2008: Residential burglary on Orcas Island.

— August 2008: Vern’s Bayside. Theft of a plane from an Eastsound Airport hangar.

According to Cumming, Harris-Moore is suspected of committing 20 to 30 burglaries in the Stanwood area.

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