'Barefoot Bandit' arrested Sunday, in custody in Bahamas

After two years of eluding authorities, alleged serial burglar Colton Harris-Moore has been caught.

And many on Orcas Island are elated.

Staff at Island Market joyfully announced on Sunday morning that the “Barefoot Bandit” had finally been apprehended, and the store erupted with cheers.

“I’m just pleased that they caught him and that we cannot worry about that anymore, at least not him, and now I just hope the court systems do their job and don’t let him off easy and that they make him pay for the havoc he’s wreaked for us and others,” said Scott Lancaster, owner of Orcas Hardware, one of the spots Harris-Moore allegedly hit.

Police captured Harris-Moore on Sunday on Harbor Island in the Bahamas after a brief, high-speed boat chase that involved gunfire. Harris-Moore was carrying a handgun and several news reports state that police shot out his boat motor.

Reporters and onlookers filmed Harris-Moore — shackled, barefoot and wearing a bulletproof vest — as he was transferred to Nassau, the capital city, where he is now being held.

“Harris-Moore was considered armed and dangerous and a confrontation gone awry could very well have ended with him or someone else being hurt,” said San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming in a press release. “I congratulate the Bahamian authorities on being able to keep everyone safe and bringing him into custody. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office will be conversing with other jurisdictions in coordinating the legal process which will hold him accountable for his illegal behavior in this county.”

Harris-Moore is blamed for a string of thefts in the Bahamas in the past week, after he allegedly crash-landed there in a plane stolen from an airfield in Indiana. He was expected to make his first court appearance on Tuesday, and at press time, it was uncertain when he would be extradited to the United States.

“From what I am reading and seeing, the Bahamas will likely want to charge him with the criminal behavior that occurred there, and since they captured him, it would be fully appropriate,” said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. “We will seek to extradite him to Western Washington, and we will work with the various jurisdictions to see if charges can be consolidated ... he could be returned to Western Washington fairly quickly after the legal process in the Bahamas is complete.”

Harris-Moore, 19, has been called the “Barefoot Burglar” or “Barefoot Bandit” because he is believed to have been barefoot during most of the alleged crimes in the San Juans. He is wanted in connection with a series of burglaries over the past two years on Orcas Island, as well as boat and plane thefts from Orcas Island, Friday Harbor, and Lopez. He has been connected to 20 to 30 burglaries in Island County. In 2007, he was convicted of three counts of residential burglary and was given three years confinement. He escaped from a group home in Renton in April 2008 when he was still a juvenile.

Kyle Ater, owner of Orcas Homegrown Market and Gourmet Delicatessen, another spot Harris-Moore allegedly broke into, this time leaving chalk drawings of feet on the floor, is relieved.

“It’s finally over ... I’m glad he didn’t get hurt and no one got hurt,” Ater said. “Other people’s reaction is ‘oh, I feel sorry for him,’ but that’s ridiculous. Look at the pattern. He was doing the same thing in the Bahamas that he was doing up here ... he’s a criminal, he’s breaking into people’s places, he’s trashing their equipment, it’s all around disrespect. He’s a criminal, he deserves to come back and serve for all the crimes he’s committed. I hope he doesn’t end up with a long-term vacation in the Bahamas, if you know what I mean.”

More news stories:

Associated Press

Seattle Times

Seattle PI

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