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Investigators may be closing in on Colton Harris-Moore; believed to be on west side of Orcas Island

Colton Harris-Moore ... teen fugitive is suspected of burglarizing homes in San Juan and Island counties. - San Juan County Sheriff
Colton Harris-Moore ... teen fugitive is suspected of burglarizing homes in San Juan and Island counties.
— image credit: San Juan County Sheriff's Department

Investigators may be closing in on Colton Harris-Moore, the teen fugitive suspected of burglarizing businesses and homes in San Juan and Island counties.

San Juan County Sheriff’s deputies, with assistance from Whatcom and Snohomish County dog tracking teams, as well as personnel from the Marysville Police Department, FBI and U.S. Customs air support, conducted an extensive search Thursday on Orcas Island for Harris-Moore.

The search, part of the continuing investigation, began at 1:15 a.m. today. "Harris-Moore is believed to be in a very isolated and very rugged area on the west side of Orcas Island where only a few homes are located," Sheriff Bill Cumming stated in a press release. "There is no other information available at this time. An updated press release will be provided at approximately noon today."

Sheriff's deputies blocked a road on the west side of Orcas Island where authorities believe Harris-Moore could be hiding. Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Vierthaler, who had been stationed on the west side of Orcas Island all morning, wouldn't say what tipped the authorities off to that portion of the island, but he said the Sheriff's Department has been receiving two to three "Colton sightings" per day.

"We've chased so many leads. Anyone who is young and over six feet tall, we've been getting calls about," he said.

Harris-Moore, 18, of Camano Island, has been called the Barefoot Burglar because he is believed to have been barefoot during most of the alleged crimes in the San Juans. He is wanted in connection with a series of burglaries in 2008, 2009 and earlier this year on Orcas Island; as well as boat and plane thefts from Orcas Island and Friday Harbor.

According to Cumming, Harris-Moore has been connected to 20 to 30 burglaries in Island County. He's also a "person of interest" in the theft of an AR-15 assault rifle and ammo, cell phone, camera and laptop from a deputy's car.

In March 2009, Harris-Moore was charged in absentia in Island County juvenile court with 10 counts relating to his alleged summer 2008 crime spree, which included burglaries and one car theft. He was charged in San Juan County Superior Court on Oct. 2, 2009 and an arrest warrant issued.

Island County Sheriff Mark C. Brown told the Whidbey News-Times that Harris-Moore could face federal charges.

Suspected in three-year crime spree
Harris-Moore, 18, is described as 6 foot 3 inches, 205 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. He reportedly has a scar on his left arm from a knife wound.

Harris-Moore was convicted in June 2007 of three counts of residential burglary and was given three years confinement. He escaped from a group home in Renton on April 30, 2008 when he was still a juvenile.

Since then, he is suspected of the following burglaries:

— Feb. 28, 2010: Orcas Island Hardware.

— Feb. 11, 2010: Orcas Homegrown Market and Gourmet Delicatessen.

— Sept. 13, 2009: Theft of a boat from Brandt’s Landing, later recovered in Point Roberts.

— September 2009: Ace Hardware, Bilbo’s, Island Market, Islanders Bank, Sunflower Cafe, Vern’s Bayside. Suspected of stealing two boats on Orcas Island and a plane from Friday Harbor that was later hard-landed at Eastsound Airport. On Sept. 12, the suspect eluded deputies in Eastsound after he was spotted and chased on foot.

— Aug. 28, 2009: Deer Harbor Marina.

— Nov. 12, 2008: Theft of a Cessna S-182 from a locked Eastsound Airport hangar. The plane was discovered later that morning abandoned in a closed area of the Yakama Nation reservation.

— September 2008: Residential burglary on Orcas Island.

— August 2008: Vern’s Bayside. Theft of a plane from an Eastsound Airport hangar.

According to Cumming, Harris-Moore is suspected of committing 20 to 30 burglaries in the Stanwood area.

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