by Pa Rock
Nineteen-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, the “barefoot bandit”, has been captured, and we are all a little poorer for his apprehension. Harris-Moore, a very resourceful thief with a sharp mind and a sterling sense of the theatrical, has been on the lam since fleeing a three-year sentence in a half-way house for troubled teens over two years ago.
Colton grew up in a dysfunctional family on Camano Island, Washington. He had a history with Child Protective Services due to drug usage in the home and neglect by his parents. By the age of seven he was living on-and-off in the wild where he met his basic needs (food, water, blankets, clothing) through petty thievery. His first conviction for stolen property occurred when he was twelve, and by the time he was thirteen he had racked up a total of four convictions for stealing.
Since fleeing the halfway house in Washington two years ago, Colton has become infamous through his daredevil thievery and outlandish showmanship. He is suspected to taking bicycles, automobiles, speedboats, and light aircraft in his efforts to remain free of the system. The young man, who may have stolen a total of five or more airplanes, reportedly taught himself to fly by reading aircraft manuals and playing flight-simulator games on the computer. His last flight was from the state of Indiana to the Bahamas!
And like any great artist, he signed his work – by leaving bold sets of intentional fingerprints, or by taking pictures of himself inside of the burgled homes with the victims’ own cameras. Colton Harris-Moore was his own brand, a brand that he vigorously and unabashedly promoted. He was the barefoot bandit, and he was proud of it!
When the resourceful lad couldn’t find what he needed in other people’s homes or offices, he would order it off the Internet using his victims’ credit cards!
Although Colton Harris-Moore became a legend in the American northwest and has a Facebook fan page listing over 80,000 supporters, he really doesn’t fit the Robin Hood mold. His main impetus in stealing was for his own self-preservation, although as recently as April of this year he left a hundred dollars in a veterinarian’s office for the care of animals – a good deed with someone else’s money.
The thing that made young Colton so popular was his constant ability to stick it to the man – that and the fact that he was an “outlaw.” America loves her outlaws – always has and always will! By the time he was finally caught in the Bahamas earlier this week, he had outsmarted police from across the United States and had caused a frustrated FBI to post a $10,000 reward for his capture.
So now he is behind bars, albeit in the paradise of the Bahamas. Efforts are underway to bring him back to the United States so that a bunch of legal jurisdictions can all get their pound of flesh. This criminal never hurt anyone, but he did take things that belonged to others. Property is, and always has been, the primary focus of law in America. The law has far more interest in protecting property than it does in protecting the rights and safety of individuals.
If the law would have been interested in protecting Colton Harris-Moore, his parents would have been jailed back at a time when it could have still done some good. Now the son is in jail and mom is out free working on a movie deal, or a reality show, or some other way of reimbursing herself for all of the love and attention that she imagines she poured into this child over the years. Hell, she should still be jailed!
Stay in the Bahamas, Colton. (The weather around Seattle is crappy anyway.) Fight extradition. Write your memoirs and make your own movie deal. You have spent most of your short life operating on your own terms, and those of us who are “aghast” at your criminal behavior are actually quite envious. We have been pulling at the oars in the slave galley while you were literally soaring with the eagles – in our boss’s planes.
Keep soaring, or sailing, or swimming, or sunning! Society has never done you any favors, and that is not going to change. But when the party ends, and it will end, why not use your intelligence and your celebrity to focus on exposing and correcting the ways that we tend to treat the children of America’s great underclass? There is so much good that you could do to ease the plight of kids who are literally invisible until they are forced by neglect and poverty to start messing with the property of their betters.
The way we treat poor children in this country is an outrage. Help us to see those kids and feel that outrage.
Colton Harris-Moore, you are the man – and this is your moment. Use it wisely!