An anonymous donor on Thursday offered $50,000 to a notorious 19-year-old burglar suspected of raiding vacation homes and businesses and stealing planes and boats around the Northwest — if he turns himself in within five days.
Colton Harris-Moore has been on the run since April 2008, when he escaped from a group home south of Seattle, and authorities believe he's responsible for dozens of break-ins in five Washington counties, British Columbia and Idaho. Police also believe he has taken four planes, luxury cars and power boats.
Everett bounty hunter Mike Rocha and Edmonds criminal defense attorney James Johanson announced the donor's offer and declined to say anything about where the money came from. They insisted the offer is genuine: The money has been placed in Johanson's trust account for his law firm, and ethical rules would prevent him from participating if it were a ruse to persuade Harris-Moore to surrender.
"The one message we're trying to get out to Colton is, I know he's tired of running from the law, and he's probably afraid and he doesn't know who to trust," Johanson said. "His legal problems seem insurmountable, but these issues can be dealt with. It's time to trust someone."
Johanson said he would represent Harris-Moore for free, if the teen so desired. Johanson said he didn't know if Harris-Moore would be forced to use the bounty to pay restitution if he takes the money and is convicted.
According to an analysis by The Herald of Everett, the value of property that authorities believe Harris-Moore might have stolen, including boats and planes — some of which were severely damaged when they were crash-landed — is over $1.5 million.
He earned the moniker "The Barefoot Bandit" by reportedly committing some of the crimes in his bare feet. Last fall, bare footprints were found at an airport hangar in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where a plane was stolen then crash-landed 260 miles to the west, near Granite Falls, Wash. And in February, someone who broke into a grocery store in the San Juan Islands drew cartoonish, chalk-outline feet all over the floor.
In March, a daylong search of Orcas Island by the FBI, dog teams and a helicopter failed to turn him up.