Saturday, March 8, 2014


We’ve had plaster casts of bare footprints left after a chase on Orcas Island. We’ve had his mom trying to sell a confidential list of crime victims eligible for restitution. We’ve even had former prison mates of Colton’s selling letters written to him by his mom…

The latest offering of Colton Harris-Memorabilia, however, is something different: It’s of proven, police-sworn provenance showing that it’s legit; it’s famously tied to his spree and was covered in every newspaper, book, and TV story; and the money earned from its sale is going to a great cause.

This new framed collection of Barefoot Bandit souvenirs is now up on Ebay, listed under “Historical Memorabilia/Gangsters & Criminals.” 

You can see it here: .

Inside the frame you’ll find the $100 Colton left at the Vetter Animal Hospital in Raymond, Washington once he left Orcas Island and began his cross-country road trip that ended with the flight to the Bahamas on the 4th of July.

It was universally reported at the time that Colton left a $100 bill, but we discover that no, it was a collection of bills including $20s, $10s, $5s, $1s and even three $2s. Along with the fanned bills are the police report, evidence bag, and the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab report stating they recovered Harris-Moore’s fingerprints on one of the bills and on the famous note that read:

“Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals”

The original note was written on a page torn from the owner’s manual of a car Colton had stolen. So that was returned to its owner. The frame does, however, include a copy of the note.

The bids have already topped $1,000. According to Vetter’s, all proceeds of the sale will benefit the Harbor Association of Volunteers of Animals, which is an animal welfare group in Raymond involved with only no-kill shelters.

One of the coolest and most valuable things about this piece of history is that it speaks directly to one of the most interesting discussions about Colton and some of his actions, our reactions to it all, and fame—including both the seeking and reverence of it.

Colton always professed a love of animals and an interest in animal welfare, so it’s certainly in character that he would leave a donation with an animal hospital. Some folks, however, might wonder where he got the cash to make the donation.

That then leads to the Robin Hood debate: that he stole from the rich to give to the poor dogs. When I talk about this in my book, though, I have to remind readers that many of the crime victims were not rich, and most of what he stole (during the time after he fled the halfway house) went to support himself while he was on the run. Still, he made the gesture… And around we go.

What’s even more interesting about this episode, though, is that Colton repeatedly insisted during and after his run that he didn’t want the attention, that he didn’t understand why people were making a bid deal over him, about how silly the people following on his Facebook groups were. And, of course, how he hatred the press who covered him, all of whom he called “paparazzi.”

So why then instead of leaving the money anonymously—since, after all, anything he did during these months made the news—did he sign the note he left at Vetter’s:

“Colton Harris-Moore (AKA “The Barefoot Bandit” Camano Island)”?

That, to me, makes this the coolest piece of Barefoot Bandit memorabilia we’ve seen. Hang it up and start the debate: Was Colton a hypocrite? Just naive? Or was he brilliant enough to realize that he could multiply his donation to the animals more than tenfold by signing it with his real name then becoming more famous by stealing another plane, getting arrested after a shootout in the Bahamas and going to prison, knowing all along that the evidence would be returned to the animal hospital so they could auction it off?

It's the ultimate conversation piece--and it's a hell of a lot easier to display in your living room than a broken airplane. 

And to top it off, the money goes to a great cause! 

I hope the bids go sky high. 


  1. Thanks so much for supporting our effort! I really enjoyed your take on things; I will have to get me a copy of your book. It is truly a fascinating story. Gina Lewis DVM

  2. About Colton signing the note, and insinuations of hypocrisy: I don't get what's so "interesting" about it, or what "valuable" thing it has to say about the seeking and reverence of fame. Much to the chagrin of reporters, Colton has proven time and time again that he won't play their games. Unfortunately, that leaves reporters free to interpret his actions through their own lens, to fit their own narratives... And sometimes, in order to justify what they do, it's like they're still clinging to the comforting notion that "he says he hates the attention, but he secretly loves it"! I think that's quite a narrow perspective.

    Maybe he signed the note because he wanted people to know he wasn't the dangerous, will-crash-a plane-on-your-kids-kindergarten reckless sociopath that many people believed him to be, at the time... If you remember back then, some people were saying that he should be shot on sight! I don't see any contradiction between shunning the press, and wanting the public to know that he is a good person who cares for animal welfare, and who never wanted to hurt anyone.

    Anyway, good luck to HAVA! I'm glad people are bidding so generously - the money couldn't go to a better cause!

  3. Thanks Gina. Keep up the great work!

  4. Thanks for the comment, Anonymous. Like I said: It's a great conversation piece.

    The cash, note, police reports, etc naturally have value simply as a collection of artifacts related to a famous outlaw case. The interesting part that ties to what I think is a legitimate discussion related to fame, hypocrisy, etc, both regarding this case but also in general our age of Facebook sharing, selfies and reality TV, is what the signed note says in the context of Colton being in and out of the news at that time.

    The note was similar to when Colton laid low and dropped off the radar for months. Then, during the Olympics in Vancouver, he stole a plane, landed it on Orcas Island where he'd already had several high-profile chases, broke into a grocery store and drew 39 big, bare footprints on the floor.

    That made some news.

    Maybe the footprints and his "C-Ya!" were the same friendly "Hello, I'm not dangerous" message you suggest the note at the vet's was. Or maybe it was a "Screw You" to the cops and FBI who he'd called out to during one chase: "You can't catch me!" Or, as the owner of the grocery took it to mean, it was a notice that Colton was coming back and no one could stop him.

    Or, since it was the first time Colton referred to himself as the Barefoot Bandit--by drawing the bare footprints--it was, at least in part, him embracing or accepting the character, the legend, that the public had created.

    As anyone who's read The Barefoot Bandit knows, I kept my editorializing to a bare minimum. I reported the facts and the experiences of everyone involved who'd talk to me--including a number who were also talking to Colton throughout the saga—and added my view as a resident of the little island at the center of the action.

    I didn't have an agenda and didn't create a narrative that I wanted or needed Colton--or the cops or the victims or fans and foes--to fit or follow. No games I needed anyone to play and I never presumed to know anything I didn't know.

    And I purposely wrote the book in a manner to NOT tell the reader how to think. I wanted them to see the facts, to feel what it felt like, and then to decide... or not. Frankly, I remain ambivalent.

    The "shoot on sight!" idiots were... Well, I just said what they were. And I do believe Colton never wanted to physically harm anyone, which goes a long way in keeping him a sympathetic character. He was certainly a symbol of human resilience, and... well, I already wrote all this stuff in the book, so no need to repeat it here.

    Something very interesting to me in working on this story was to see firsthand in real time how a legend is born. Now we're not talking flesh-and-blood Colton Harris-Moore here, but about the character "Colt," who was the blank slate that people projected their different hopes, prejudices and points of view onto.

    Part of that study is the care and feeding of "the legend" versus the "I could care less" about it and I don't want the attention--which can be different than "shunning" the press.

    Although many people who want to build their fame naturally seek to talk to the media, others might ignore the actual journalists and do what used to be called publicity stunts, which are attempts to get press.

    So, just a last note on the "hating versus appreciating the attention" discussion: I wonder if things like the iPod the police found that Colton used to save all the stories about himself will ever come up for auction? Or all the clippings of newspaper stories about himself that the police found in his campsite?

    And, you know, there's no value judgment in any of that. I’ve saved some of my press clippings going back 20 years. But I've never said I hate the attention.

    I'm ambivalent about it...

  5. Last Chance to bid on auction item through eBay. Auction ends at 1:41pm PDT.

  6. We hope Colton will have a happy 23rd birthday today, and will make progress toward positive goals such as furthering his education and employability for when he gets out of prison. Bob, please keep us posted. Thanks.

  7. Nice sentiments, Anon. I hope so, too.