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Is 'barefoot bandit' afoot in Kitsap?: Kitsap deputies on the look-out for Colton Harris-Moore
When a small boat taken from a Whidbey Island pier was found aground in Kingston earlier this month, it resembled the handiwork of "barefoot bandit" Colton Harris-Moore.
Kitsap deputies found no evidence linking Harris-Moore, 19, to the ditched boat, but the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office is getting ready for him nonetheless.
"Since it fits very close to his M.O. it would not be real prudent on our part if we did not take some precautionary steps," said sheriff's office Spokesman Scott Wilson. "I'm not saying he is here or isn't here. We're gearing up as if he is here."
First, deputies found the 27-foot power boat near the Eglon boat ramp, 9799 NE Eglon Road, with its ignition system tampered with and a ransacked interior, according to sheriff's office reports.
Then, deputies visited cabins — one in Hansville and another in Kingston — where it appeared someone had spent the night. Still, Wilson said, the is no evidence pointing to the 19-year-old.
Regardless, a detective has been assigned to investigate everything "from the sublime to the ridiculous," involving a potential Kitsap connection to the Harris-Moore case. The teenager's story has taken on a tinge of celebrity, complete with its own "fan page" on Facebook.
Harris-Moore grew up on Camano Island and is suspected in more than 20 burglaries and has been frustrating attempts by law enforcement to bring him to justice.
So far, he has been linked to thefts involving airplanes, boats and cars. He has four outstanding warrants for his arrest, two of them dating back to March 2009.
He was convicted in June 2007 of three counts of residential burglary and was sentenced to three years incarceration. He later escaped from a group home in Renton in April 2008 while he was still a juvenile.
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office released photos earlier this month taken from a surveillance video they believe shows Harris-Moore at a Lopez Island marina May 15.
A 30-foot boat was reported stolen that same morning.
Since news spread that he may have landed ashore in Kitsap, residents have already reported sightings of Harris-Moore, Wilson said.
"People start thinking they're seeing this bogeyman behind any trash can," he said.
Still, Wilson said, residents should report anything unusual, as well as make sure they lock all vehicles and the doors to their homes.
Harris-Moore is described as 6 feet 5 inches tall weighing 205 pounds with green eyes and brown hair.
Information from the Islands Sounder and the South Whidbey Record is included in this report.