Tuesday, February 23, 2010


ABC News reports today in this post that somebody may have been trying to steal another airplane on Orcas Island this past Friday. Unsubstantiated at this point, but if true it could mean that Colton Harris-Moore remains on the island and didn't make a quick getaway back to the mainland after allegedly leaving a calling card for us during a break-in at the Homegrown Market.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010


Dateline Orcas Island, WA: Where in the world is Colton Harris-Moore?

Rumors last week of his capture by the Coast Guard were quickly deemed false (unless that was just a cover because they immediately renditioned Colt to Guantanamo... see if that false rumor gains traction).

There have, so far, been no other reports of break-ins or thefts on the island that fit Colt's m.o., leaving authorities -- and all of us residents -- to wonder if he did a hit and run on us. A mystery boat buzzed along the island at 1:45 a.m. last Thursday. Was it Colt making a quick getaway after leaving the taunting footprints? Or maybe just a Coast Guard patrol boat making a midnight sweep? We have increased water patrols because of the Olympics being held just north of us in Vancouver.

Down on Camano Island, where Colt was born and first became an outlaw, there continue to be sporadic break-ins. As I've reported in Outside Magazine and here, though, many if not all of them appear to be the work of other thiefs, with some possibly acting as Colt copycats. Naturally, though, since Colton Harris-Moore gets all the press, everyone first thinks of him whenever there is a residential or commercial burglary.

As for residents, it's not just burglaries, but every bump in the night that we have to wonder "Is it Colt?" It's not a nice way to live. I'm also getting a lot of feedback from residents on Orcas and Camano that they wish people would stop thinking of Colt as a "Robin Hood" who steals from the rich. Yes, there are rich people who live on these islands, but the majority of us are not, and instead vary from the poor conditions Colt grew up in, to typical middle classers struggling to make it in tough times.

So, from what we know now, whoever stole the plane and rode it to Orcas Island then robbed the Homegrown Market may still be on the loose here on the island, hiding out with a belly full of cheesecake, trying to figure out how to cook croissants over a camp fire. Or... he's hiding in one of our neighbor's houses. Or... he's back on the mainland.

Basically, we don't know much other than we're watching the woods.


Friday, February 12, 2010


Colt or not, whoever stole the small plane and flew it to Orcas probably doesn't know how lucky he (or she, but we all know it's probably a he, don't we?) is. According to this story on HeraldNet the plane flew an erratic course on its way to Orcas Island and may have blundered into restricted airspace.

The Vancouver Olympics begin tonight and are, naturally, a big fat terrorist target. Airspace around Vancouver is being strictly and seriously controlled. We can see the lights of Vancouver from here on Orcas, and the restricted zone extends almost to the north end of the island. The pirated Cirrus apparently crossed over the line, though I don't have any information yet whether its transponder was on or ATC tried to contact the pilot.

So, beyond the danger of flying to a tiny island airstrip at night (especially if you're not instrument trained), you have to add the threat of a Sidewinder suppository fired from an F-15.

[UPDATE: FAA says the plane did not cross into the Olympic airspace, though they were watching it closely because if was using the wrong transponder code.]


Some info on the latest act of airplane piracy to hit Western Washington. There have now been four small aircraft stolen and believed connected to Colton Harris-Moore. To put that number into perspective, in an average year, there are a total of six general aviation planes stolen in North America -- and most of those are near the southern border, taken and used by drug dealers.  

This plane was a Cirrus SR22, the same popular model as one stolen last summer from San Juan Island. That plane was also hard-landed on Orcas Island.  

Both times, the planes were taken at night and landed in the dark (Orcas does have runway lights that stay on all night). Both planes hit the runway, but then quickly ran off onto the grass.

This most recent plane was heisted from a locked hangar, as were the first and third planes (those were both Cessna 182s). Hangared planes give the thief time to check out the aircraft, see if it has enough fuel, check for the keys, etc.

The Cirrus is faster than the 182 and reportedly somewhat trickier to fly. That initially led some experts to doubt that someone like Colt, who had no formal training, could have flown one. Now, with a second Cirrus taken, and hints (in the form of tauntingly drawn "barefoots") that Colt has suddenly landed back on Orcas, those experts are having to admit that the connection looks stronger. Officially, though, Colt hasn't been tied to that first Cirrus theft. He is officially a suspect in this latest one.

The Cirrus is known for its airframe parachute, which in case of engine failure, deploys and slows the plane's fall to a survivable speed. It's not a magic carpet, though. This plane was stolen from Anacortes then flown across the cold waters of Puget Sound to Orcas. If a plane went into the drink out here and the pilot survived the hit, he'd only last about a half hour in the 46-degree water before losing conciousness.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Follow this link for a news report about the latest Colt sighting...

KOMO News on Orcas Island


Here's the message someone left at the main door of Homegrown Market. There were a couple dozen similar footprints drawn on the floor creating an entire trail around the store.

Missing from the market: A cheesecake, some organic veggies and uncooked meat-and-cheese croissants...

Whoever broke in wanted to leave this message, but obviously didn't want to leave their image. They got to the stores security system and tried to remove the hard drive. When they couldn't get it out, they filled a basin full of water and dumped the entire computer into it along with some tools. Unfortunately, whoever it was left the water running and it caused damage inside the store. One thing that Colt has had going for him (at least as far as having some people rooting for him) is that he's rarely done malicious damage to places he's burglarized. If this is Colt, hopefully this isn't an escalation.


I'm just back from town. The "footprints" in Homegrown (Orcas Islands very cool natural food store) were drawn on the floor with chalk. They're cartoon footprints about two feet long and lead from the service entrance around the store and out the main door. At the main door, there's a note "C-YA!" I'll post pix of the prints later today.

Colt or copycat??? It's a pretty hardcore copycat who'd go to the trouble of stealing a plane...

More details soon.


Like all islands, information here on Orcas travels fastest by coconut telegraph or jungle drum. I just got word (rumor) that they might have, indeed, found bare footprints in the health food store that was broken into last night... Doesn't sound too smart to me (see previous post about Barefootin') and that might mean it's a copycat. I'm sure that if there are prints, police will be able to know shortly if it is indeed Colt (or at least someone with the same footprints as were found at other crime scenes thought tied to Harris-Moore).


Late last night, a plane was stolen from Skagit County (mainland Western Washington) and flown here to Orcas Island, which for the past two summers has been Colton Harris-Moore’s happy hunting ground. Also last night, our health food grocery, Homegrown Market & Deli, was broken into and its security system messed with.

The plane, a Cirrus, is the same model as the second aircraft stolen in a string of what is now four plane thefts where Colt is a suspect — the other two were both Cessna 182s. Fun fact: One feature of the Cirrus is a built-in parachute that can lower the plane down in relative safety — not a bad thing to have if you don’t really know what you’re doing up there.

This latest plane landed at our Eastsound airport from the south, touched down and went off the runway into the grass. Apparently, though, there was only some minor damage to a landing wheel cowling, and the aircraft is still flyable. It’s being moved to a hangar so San Juan County detectives can go over what is now a crime scene to look for evidence. As it’s 50 degrees and drizzly today, I don’t expect them to find any bare footprints.

The information that Homegrown’s security system was tampered with also fits with Colt’s m.o.

Islanders weren’t expecting Colt to come back until spring, when the weather is much more conducive to running around the woods.

The jungle drums are beating, interesting days ahead…