Colton Harris-Moore Biography

Thief (1991–)
"Barefoot Bandit" Colton Harris-Moore became something of an anti-hero when he eluded the police for two years after committing a string of robberies, which he occasionally perpetrated while barefoot.


Colton Harris-Moore, also known as the "Barefoot Bandit," committed his first crime at age 12, and by the time he was 19, he had broken into banks, stolen a powerboat and crash-landed a stolen plane in the Bahamas, where he was apprehended in 2010.

Troubled Childhood

Colton Harris-Moore was born in Washington State on March 22, 1991, where he was subsequently raised on Camano Island. He had a volatile childhood, often clashing with his mother in a generally combative relationship. Child protection officers had been referred to the family a dozen times by the time Harris-Moore was a teenager, and his father appears to have left the family after a violent incident in 2003. Around this same time, when Harris-Moore was about 12 years old (the age at which he was first arrested, for burglary), he was diagnosed with several psychiatric conditions, including depression, ADD and intermittent explosive disorder. He was prescribed antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, and dropped out of school after completing the ninth grade.

At age 15, Harris-Moore was sentenced to 30 days in a youth detention center, his fourth juvenile jail term, and his fugitive life began shortly after, when he escaped from the Griffin Home halfway house in Renton, Washington, in April 2008. Dubbed a "survivalist," at first, he only seemed to steal what he needed for life in the woods, such as blankets and food. However, his thefts grew more lucrative and frequent. After allegedly using a victim's computer and credit card information to order bear mace and $6,500 night-vision goggles, Harris-Moore was sought-after by the police.

'Barefoot Bandit'

Once on the run, Harris-Moore was dubbed the "Barefoot Bandit" because he committed a few of his crimes shoeless, and left behind chalk footprints at the scene of one. He was soon accused of stealing speedboats to travel to nearby islands to rob empty homes. In November 2008, Harris-Moore hot-wired a Cessna and crash-landed it 300 miles away, on an Indian reservation. Though it is uncertain how or where he learned to fly, Harris-Moore is thought to have stolen at least five planes and crash-landed all of them, unscathed. 

During his two years on the run across multiple states, Harris-Moore is suspected of committing more than 100 burglaries, stealing everything from powerboats to cash to cars. He also inspired Facebook tribute pages and pro-"Barefoot Bandit" T-shirts for his stunning ability to elude police, and became a bona fide anti-hero sensation. 

Harris-Moore's life on the run came to an end shortly after he again crash-landed a stolen plane, this time in the Bahamas; he was captured on a stolen motorboat in the Bahamas, on July 11, 2010. When police fired shots at the boat's engine, Harris-Moore threw a laptop into the water and held a gun to his head. Police officers talked him out of pulling the trigger.

Sentencing & Aftermath

In January 2012, Harris-Moore was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for his crimes. In 2016, his mother died from cancer and that August it was reported that Harris-Moore would be released to a half-way house.  The film rights for a biopic of Harris-Moore based on a biography by author Bob Friel were sold to 20th Century Fox in 2011. As part of the deal he would relinquish his right to profits from the project.

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