Aided By Social Media Accomplices, The Barefoot Bandit Bamboozles Authorities [UPDATE]
With accounts on Twitter, a tribute song on YouTube and racking up 50,000 fans generated by three Facebook accounts, 19 year-old Colton Harris-Moore has been on the run since escaping from his fourth juvenile detention center in the Spring of 2008. Everybody loves a bad boy and social networks are rooting for this modern-day 'rebel without a cause' as he flees from one cat-burglary to the next.
This modern-day hero - cut from same cloth as Frank Abagnale Jr, another real-life fraudster whose life story was made into the 2002 flick, "Catch Me If You Can" starring Leonardo DiCaprio- has learned how to skillfully elude the authorities. Colton earned the moniker 'Barefoot Bandit' after committing many of his thefts without wearing shoes - as evidenced by leaving tell-tale footprints behind.
To date, he's not only learned how to fly a plane, he's already stolen three of them, in addition to two speedboats and countless cars. This past week, its been reported that he crash-landed a plane in the Bahamas prompting the FBI to issue a US $10K reward for anyone with information about the fugitive, who's now allegedly responsible for over 100 burglaries across North America.
While his Twitter account has only 157 followers as of this posting, it appears it has been inactive for almost a full year, up until July 9. While some may question whether this is a legitimate account or an imposter - I would say that it's got a good chance of being the real deal since it was established in October, 2009, when hardly anybody knew about Carlton.
With his last tweet, he mocks Twitter for requesting that he add "a location" to his profile. Apparently, the Barefoot Bandit also has a sense of humor.
Sort of like Clyde (without the Bonnie), Jesse James (without the murders) and Robin Hood, BB's cult following continues to grow with supporters on Facebook urging him to "Run Colton, Run," and one Sarah West telling him "if you're ever in Vancouver, Canada, Facebook me and I'll let you lay low at my pad. Take care dude best of luck." Another supporter, Ben Giles wrote: "Never give up never surrender!
There's even a blog titled, the "Colton Harris-Morris Watch" that tracks all the current stories hitting the social networks and traditional media.
Such is his mystique, "atumcronico" has posted a tribute song on YouTube, dating all the way back to October, 2009. Titled, "The Ballad of Barefoot Harris," it has since motivated Hollywood movie producers to offer $100K for BB's life story.
Social Media has embraced the Barefoot Bandit because we like rooting for the underdog - even when people like him do not play by the rules. Following a rebel is as American as 'apple pie' sort of speak. It's the 'dark side' of the American dream. We applaud a 'tainted innocent' who overcomes obstacles to achieve a goal. In Colton's case - it was against the law - but that's not problematic, because he did it in such a way that was romantic and adventuresome - appealing to our wilder nature.
So as his loyal followers and sympathizers continue to aid and abet this savvy renegade, his number one fan still remains his Mom. Speaking to the The Seattle Times, she said, "If he really flew those planes, I'm proud of him. I was going to send him to flight school. I guess, I don't have to."
But, like all concerned Moms, she does send out a word of caution to her Barefoot Baby Boy through the media: "I'd tell him that the next time he took a plane, wear a parachute and practice your landing." How's that for a supportive Mum?
UPDATE: July 10 - King5 - "Mom of 'barefoot bandit' hires entertainment lawyer" - A Seattle entertainment lawyer who has represented the likes of Courtney Love and the family of Jimi Hendrix has a new client: the mother of the 'barefoot bandit.' Ms. Pamela Kohler (BB's mother) says she needs an attorney to handle her "entertainment" interests, and she said a deal for a book about her son is in the works. Legal experts say Washington state doesn't have any laws that would prevent Kohler from profiting off her son's crimes.
UPDATE: July 11, 2010 - Washington Times - Bahamas police captured Colton today, bringing an end to the "Barefoot Bandit's" two-year flight from US justice, a senior police official said. Island police picked up his trail in Eleuthera after recovering a 44-foot power boat stolen from a marina on Abaco, 40 miles to the north, where he was suspected in a string of burglaries. A press conference will be held shortly.
UPDATE: January 21, 2013 - BBC Radio- Ron Callari was interviewed by BBC correspondent, Mark Whitaker and "The World Today" as a result of this blog posting back in July, 2010. This video includes that interview plus an update on what the Barefoot Bandit is up to today.