Editorial: Catch Colton Harris-Moore before the movie’s made

The best way to cut-short plans to make a movie about Colton Harris-Moore is to catch the miscreant and throw him in jail where he belongs.

Rumors that a movie is in the works are based on reports that Fox studios has purchased the rights to “Taking Flight: The Hunt for a Young Outlaw,” which is a book proposal based on a magazine article.

There has been no shortage of magazine, Web and newspaper articles about Island County’s most notorious crook. Harris-Moore, 19, was apparently a born criminal. He terrorized Camano Island homeowners for years by stealing their stuff. He later made an escape from juvenile detention, and has since added to his exploits with more suspected burglaries and Indiana Jones-style heists of single-engine airplanes that he somehow managed to fly, despite lack of flying lessons. He crash-landed a few times before apparently mastering the technique by landing safely on Orcas Island.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown has been chasing Harris-Moore for years, as have sheriffs from Skagit, Snohomish and San Juan counties, plus the State Patrol and even federal authorities. Recently in the San Juans, he eluded cops equipped with helicopters and bloodhounds. The more escapes he makes, the greater grows the fame of “The Barefoot Bandit.”

So far, Harris-Moore has confined himself to nonviolent crimes. Perhaps that is why he has created a sizable amount of public sympathy, with Web sites and magazine articles making him a folk hero. It’s understandable why a criminal might receive some sympathy in a time when lighting a cigarette in a bar or talking on a cell phone during a traffic jam could result in a citation from a police officer. The Legislature has made so many things illegal that an honest person might understandably feel some kinship with a criminal who gets away with a few things and makes local authorities look like Sheriff Buford T. Justice from “Smokey and the Bandit.”

However, we must put such thoughts out of our minds and look at the reality of the situation: Colton Harris-Moore is a criminal, and eventually he could hurt an innocent civilian or police officer. He must be captured, and the sooner the better. The last thing we need is a movie about his supposed heroics.

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