Colton Harris-Moore, known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” as seen on a GoFundMe page where he sought to raise $125,000 for flight training. (GoFundMe)

Colton Harris-Moore, known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” as seen on a GoFundMe page where he sought to raise $125,000 for flight training. (GoFundMe)

‘Barefoot Bandit’ asks judge to shorten his supervised release

Colton Harris-Moore says travel restrictions are holding back a lucrative public-speaking career.

SEATTLE — Colton Harris-Moore is playing catch-up on life.

Nearly a decade ago, the law caught up with the teenager from Camano Island after a prolific crime spree that ended in the Bahamas after five plane thefts and escapes on foot, sometimes without shoes. His exploits earned him notoriety as “the Barefoot Bandit” — and 6½ years in prison.

At 28, Harris-Moore says he’s turned his life around. He’s whittled down much of his $1.3 million in restitution payments. He says there’s just one thing holding him back: his remaining five months of supervised release. He wrote earlier this month to U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones, asking to shorten his sentence.

“I have learned from my past; I do not run from it, but instead try to embrace it for the better,” Harris-Moore said. “I hope to serve as a model for people who have hard lives and whom feel hopeless. I saw it every day when I was confined, and I have seen it in the world upon release.”

The court could consider the request Friday.

Described as bright and creative, Harris-Moore had a troubled childhood and behavior problems in school. He had his first felony conviction by age 12. He made headlines in 2007 for a series of break-ins on Camano Island and in neighboring Stanwood after evading capture for months by hiding in the woods and seeking shelter in empty vacation homes. He later escaped from a group home while serving a three-year sentence for burglary.

Things escalated from there.

In 2009, he was implicated in dozens more burglaries in the San Juan Islands, along with boat and airplane thefts.

By mid-2010, he had left Washington state, leaving a trail of stolen cars and home break-ins as he moved eastward. On July 3 of that year, a Cessna 400 plane was stolen from a locked hangar at the Monroe County Airport in Bloomington, Indiana. The plane turned up crashed off the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, about 1,200 miles away. The Royal Bahamas Police Force arrested Harris-Moore a week later.

In early 2012, Jones, the judge, handed down his federal sentence, which Harris-Moore served concurrently with his punishment for state crimes.

Harris-Moore said he’s a different person now.

“I do not do drugs, I do not drink alcohol, I do not associate with any criminals, I have zero risk of recidivism, and I have not committed a single crime since 2010,” he wrote in his April 14 letter to the court.

Much of the progress toward restitution came courtesy of Hollywood. The movie studio 20th Century Fox paid more than $1 million in exchange for the rights to Harris-Moore’s story.

Harris-Moore said his remaining restitution will soon be less than $100,000.

He’s eager to launch a public speaking career, which he figures could earn at least $10,000 per appearance “at the low end.” That’s impossible without being able to travel at will.

“Had I been able to effectively explore this opportunity, which requires absolutely fluid domestic and international travel, and assuming I was able to do this for the past 2.5 years, I would have earned around $600,000 net,” Harris-Moore said.

The restriction has apparently interfered with his social life, as well.

“I have not been able to visit friends in London, France, China, or Korea,” he wrote. “Of several examples, I recently had to decline a friend’s wedding in Bali, as well as a birthday and New Year celebration in Lake Chelan, Washington. I am essentially wholly confined to western Washington State, and it has a significant impact to my quality of life.”

Harris-Moore’s missive is accompanied by several letters of support. They include warm words from family friends, conservative Seattle radio host Jason Rantz Antebi of the “Jason Rantz Show” and a man who says he owned the airplane that the Barefoot Bandit crashed in the Bahamas.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

More in Northwest

Business alliance serves women of African diaspora in King County

Nourah Yonous launched the African Women Business Alliance in 2017 to find ways to lift women up.

Fire along Twisp River Road in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in 2018. Courtesy photo
Wildfire response: State unveils funding legislation proposal

Last year, Department of Natural Resources responded to record number of wildfires.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo
Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

Demonstrators from La Resistencia protest Amazon’s involvement with ICE. Photo courtesy of La Resistencia
How will the U.S. respond to climate refugees?

Business as usual has been harder borders, are there other ways to address climate migration?

File photo of a pothole
King County approves roads, bridges funding

The capital projects funding is significantly less than previous years.

Safe drug consumption sites have been recommended by the King County Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Pictured is a safe consumption site in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge
What’s been happening with safe injection sites?

There hasn’t been much coverage this year compared to the last couple years.

A “notice to vacate” sign was placed in the middle of a homeless encampment in Federal Way by FWPD officers before the encampment was cleaned in January 2019. Sound Publishing file photo
King County, Seattle could create joint homelessness response agency

It would be a unified agency and the overarching authority on addressing homelessness in the county.

West Point Treatment Plant report due in January

The report will look at ways to keep adequate power flowing to the plant after a July spill.

Flying Fish: Lake Sammamish kokanee move to Orcas Island

It’s part of a program to preserve the unique freshwater salmon species.

Most Read