Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Free as a bird: Videos taken by the Barefoot Bandit himself shows what he saw as he stole planes and cars across the United States

Self-shot video of the 'Barefoot Bandit' on his cross-country theft spree has emerged, giving a fascinating look into what Colton Harris-Moore's life was like during his two-year spell on the run. In the videos, obtained by KOMO News, Harris-Moore captured the raindrops on the wind shield of one of the many cars he stole, and the views of islands off South Carolina from the cockpit of a plane- far from his Washington state home. Harris-Moore was finally caught by police in the Bahamas on July 11, 2011 when police were forced to shoot the engine of a boat that he was using to try to escape.

One video is clearly shot from the cockpit of a single-engine plane, and when it pans to the instrument panel it is clear that he is flying 17,500 feet over the South Carolina coast near the resort town of Hilton Head. His destination on that flight appears to be Treasure Cay in the Bahamas which may place that as his final journey that eventually ended his two years on the run. He crash-landed the plane off Abaco Island, and was caught by police shortly after. The variety in the videos gives a glimpse into how extensive his crime spree truly was. One video shows him in the driver's seat of a car, surrounded by open fields and listening to a country music song on the radio.

Though there are no road signs for clues, the call signs from the radio station hint that the video in question was shot in Boise, Idaho. Another contrast in scenery is one video where he is seemingly playing laser tag in a very vegetated forest. The red flickers of lasers appear sporadically. Harris-Moore was locked up in January, following a two-year, international crime spree of break-ins, and boat and plane thefts, earning his nickname because he regularly went about his crimes with no shoes on.

His law-breaking captivated the country and frustrated authorities, baiting detectives with messages left at crime scenes. But it ended in a storm of bullets in the Bahamas in 2010, when he was arrested after crash-landing a plane stolen from an Indiana airport. Prior to hearing his sentence, Harris-Moore apologized to his victims and for bragging about his crimes in emails.  'I now know a crime that took place overnight will take years to recover from,' the 20-year-old said in court. He particularly apologized for stealing planes, saying his arrogance led him to keep alive his dream of flying.  'What I did could be called daring, but it is no stretch of the imagination to say that am lucky to be alive … absolutely lucky,' he said. 

'I should have died years ago.'

He now could face spending the remainder of his six-and-a-half-year jail sentence in solitary confinement, in a move that the Department of Corrections has said is for his own protection. Harris-Moore, 21, was sent to the intensive management unit at Walla Walla State Penitentiary in Seattle, alongside convicts facing the death penalty. Selena Davis, spokesperson for the department, told him: ‘You're there by yourself. No one can pose a threat to you.’ She added that it is common practice for high-profile inmates to be segregated for their own protection, but Harris-Moore’s attorney, John Henry Browne insisted that the extra protection was neither wanted nor needed and has asked state officials to intervene. 

He called it absurd that Harris-Moore, a non-violent felon, be subjected to the same conditions as murderers, adding that he is concerned for his client’s mental health.Harris-Moore is allowed out of his cell for five one-hour stints each week, plus three 10-minute showers. He is allowed books but no television or radio. He has been visited frequently by Academy Award winning screen writer Dustin Lance Black, of Milk fame, who is said to have already completed a script for the movie due to be released about Harris-Moore's story.

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