Colton Harris-Moore: America's Teenage Bandit

The web cheers the Pacific Northwest's young outlaw

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The latest Internet sensation isn't a doe-eyed kitten or a skiing squirl—it's an 18-year-old teenage bandit from the Pacific Northwest. Meet Colton Harris-Moore. The gangly teenager is suspected of stealing bikes, cars, speedboats and three small aircraft. With nearly 100 burglaries committed in Washington, Idaho and Canada, he's earned himself a groundswell of regional notoriety. In Seattle, T-shirts depict his face with the slogan "Fly, Colton, Fly." His Facebook fan club exceeds 8,000 members.

And now, after police retrieved a picture of Harris-Moore, the story has gone viral, eliciting enthusiastic (and denunciatory) commentary from across the Web. Here's a sampling of the sobriquets bestowed on the young criminal:

  • "The Rugged Northwest's Answer to Frank Abagnale Jr.," writes Vernal Coleman at The Seattle Weekly: "In the year since his escape, Harris-Moore has officially been named as a suspect in two separate incidents in which the perpetrator stole and then took a joyride in a single-engine airplane, and is rumored to be the culprit in a third. The parallels to another famous teenage fugitive, Frank Abagnale Jr., whose own enthusiasm for impersonating airline pilots was captured in the film Catch Me if You Can, are obvious."

  • "Harris-Moore Is a Modern Butch Cassidy," writes the Times of London: "A surprisingly agile 6ft 5in cat burglar who thanks his victims by leaving them notes and cheeky photographs of himself, which have sold for £300 on eBay."
  • "The Huck Finn of Boy Criminals," writes Brandon at True Crime Report: "I think the reason we're attracted to this Huck Finn character is that he is opposing the greed and conformity of our society with storybook hi-jinks. He's not stealing to have lots of things, it isn't a capitalistic drive. He's doing what makes him happy."
  • "Facebook's New Folk Hero," writes Adam Ostrow at Mashable. After excitedly enumerating Harris-Moore's Facebook friends, Ostrow warns: "Although Moore’s crimes may be intriguing, he is dangerous. In his most recent suspected encounter with police, he shot at a sheriff’s deputy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.