Did Barefoot Bandit Try to Fly Again?

Sources say Colton Harris-Moore may have tried to steal yet another plane.

February 22, 2010, 5:13 PM

Feb. 23, 2010— -- ABC News has learned the infamous alleged "barefoot bandit," 18-year-old Colton Harris-Moore who police say is behind a string of burglaries and the thefts of several boats and airplanes in exclusive vacation communities in the Pacific Northwest, may have attempted to steal another plane last Friday.

The failed attempt sources tell ABC News, came at the very same airport -- on Orcas Island, about 80 miles north of Seattle -- where police reportedly suspect that Harris-Moore landed another stolen plane just eight days earlier.

According to two people familiar with the investigation, a hanger was broken into and the keys were found left inside the plane on Oct. 19 after what appeared to be a failed theft, and police believe it was Harris-Moore, although no formal announcement on the break-in has been made by law enforcement.

Harris-Moore's name was back in the headlines on Feb 11, after a $600,000 Cirruss SR22 single-engine plane was stolen from an airport in Anacortes, Wash.and was landed, officials say, rather sloppily off the runway into the mud at the Orcas Island Airport.

Part of Harris-Moore's infamy is the fact that he is suspected in the theft and crash landing of two other airplanes around the Island and San Juan County areas, despite having no formal flight experience, police say, other than ordering a flight instruction manual with a stolen credit card.

According to San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming, the Feb. 11 theft nearly turned into an international incident after the pilot flew dangerously close to the restricted airspace around the Vancouver Olympic Games.

That plane was discovered the morning of Feb. 11, and also discovered in Orcas that morning was a break-in at the Homegrown Market, a small organic grocer littered with the barefoot bandit's reported calling card: 39 chalk outline drawings of bare feet and a rather taunting "c yah" written in chalk by the side door the burglar allegedly exited.

"We continue to hold him as a primary person of interest, obviously," Cumming said in an interview today about Harris-Moore.

Cumming said the San Juan County and Island County Sherriff's offices are working with the FBI to bring Harris-Moore in, although for the past two years that has been no easy task. According to police, Harris-Moore is suspected in committing two boat thefts and up to 30 burglaries in Island County alone since 2008, earning the barefoot moniker after police said the suspect was barefoot during a majority of his crimes.

Harris-Moore, from nearby Camano Island, has earned folk hero like status on the Internet, being compared to a modern day Huckleberry Finn or Jesse James. People are selling T-shirts with his image, and the requisite fan Web site, Facebook page, and YouTube Video have been created lauding his uncanny ability to slip away from police and vanish on the islands off Washington's Pacific coast.

In a least once case, police say Harris-Moore ordered pizzas and asked for them to be delivered to the edge of the woods. Another time he allegedly left behind a camera with a cheeky photograph of himself in a Mercedes Benz police say he's suspected of stealing, which only added to his legend.

People in Orcas are on edge after police say Harris-Moore ripped through the town last summer. He's suspected in committing seven burglaries during August and September.

The latest robbery victim says the crime couldn't have come at a worse time.

"It's been a huge hit to the store," Kyle Ater, owner of Homegrown Market said in an interview with ABC News. "It's really hard to make it in the winter on Orcas. For some reason he's attacking us in the winter now, usually he comes in the summer," Ater said.

Ater said the robbery put his small business in dire straits. He says he reported at least $5,000 in damage and stolen goods plus another $1,200 in cash which was taken from cash registers. Also missing Ater says, is an organic cheesecake, some organic produce, and a tray of unbaked croissants.

"He's got good tastes, guess he likes health food," Ater said.

Ater's says the burglar tried to ruin his newly installed security system by dumping a computer into a sink full of water in an attempt to destroy any video evidence of the crime.

But Ater says he thinks he may have salvaged the computer, possibly preserving a video of the break-in. He turned the system over to police, who informed him it was now in the hands of the FBI.

Ater said he installed the video surveillance system after last summer's robbery spree which caused him to sleep in his store with his dogs and a gun in an attempt to ward off the bandit.

"I just got tired of sleeping on the floor," Ater said.

Ater said he discovered 39 chalk outlined footprints from the point of entry, around the store at various areas where food was taken, leading out the side entrance where the rather taunting note "c yah" was left written on the ground.

"Seems to me like he's reaching out for media attention and this was his only way to get it," Ater said about the footprints.

Ater suspects if it was Harris-Moore, he's still on the island.

"Everything is locked down pretty tight right now. I think he's here, near the airport, and I think he can't get out," Ater said.

As for Harris-Moore's growing legend, Sheriff Cumming says these actions are far from heroic.

"This kind of theft can be absolutely devastating to their operations," Sheriff Cumming said about the long list of victims.

"People who think of him as some kind of folk hero, really aren't looking below the surface. He's hurting struggling business, and he's flying airplanes over populated areas and he doesn't have a pilot's license. You don't need much imagination to see what kind of catastrophic consequences that could lead to," said Cumming.