‘Barefoot bandit’s’ popularity grows

The search for a suspected teenage
thief known as the “Barefoot Bandit” has intensified on a sparsely
populated island in the Bahamas, with police using dogs to search thick groves
of trees where he is believed to hide during the day before emerging at night
to loot local shops.

Soldiers in camouflage uniforms and
police armed with shotguns fanned out with German shepherds as the manhunt for
Colton Harris-Moore entered its sixth day on Great Abaco Island, where police
believe he has been hiding out since ditching a stolen plane offshore.

As the 19-year-old fugitive
continued to elude an island-wide dragnet, some of Abaco’s 16,000 residents
began expressing the same admiration that Harris-Moore has won in corners of the
United States during his two-year run from the law. Since escaping from a
halfway house, he has emerged as a folk hero of sorts, with escapes allegedly
involving stolen cars, boats and airplanes.

“I tip my hat to the fellow,”
said Clayton Sands, 54. “For him to duck and dodge the police in two
countries at 19, that’s impressive.”

The FBI has offered a $10,000
reward for his capture, and the island chain’s government dispatched detectives
from the capital, Nassau.

Miller said Harris-Moore could be
hiding in the buttonwood trees and other vegetation that cover Abaco, a mostly
undeveloped, 650-square-mile island that is about half the size of Rhode
Island. Wanted posters featuring the blue-eyed, 6-foot, 5-inch teen are across
the one-stoplight town, a sailing haven where tourists and locals debated
prospects for the fugitive’s capture.

Police have released few details of
the investigation, in part to keep Harris-Moore from gaining any more
popularity than he already has.