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The article behind the ‘Barefoot Bandit’ pitch

Colton_harris_boffo Hollywood’s hot-to-trot on Colton Harris-Moore, the “Barefoot Bandit” whose capture in the Bahamas capped a manhunt for the alleged serial burglar.

But according to the January profile in Outside magazine — grist for the book proposal behind the film — it’s not exactly a feel-good story.

Reporter Bob Friel, who lives in an area that saw break-ins later attributed to Colton, mentions facts you won’t see in the breathless news coverage of this latter-day outlaw.

“Colton was first suspected of theft in 2001, when he was ten years old,” says Detective Ed Wallace, of the Island County sheriff’s department, which has been chasing Colt almost constantly ever since. Born March 22, 1991, the young outlaw tended toward the childish in his criminal tooth-cutting—petty thefts and malicious mischief. …  According to court records, when confronted by the principal, Colt said he “could not stop stealing and didn’t know why.” In sixth grade, the kids at school began calling him Klepto Colt.

But wait, there’s more:

After reading a couple hundred pages of Island County court documents concerning Colt’s childhood, I got the impression that, at times, this place had been anything but a haven for him. Reports name a dozen Child Protective Services referrals dating from the time he was one. They also reference “numerous” reports that “Colton’s mother has been heavily affected by alcohol abuse throughout his formative years” and state that his father was gone by the time Colt was four, though back for at least one family barbecue, which ended with Colt calling 911 and the father being chased through the woods and arrested on outstanding warrants. The court documents state that Colt’s stepfather was a heroin addict.

It’s not exactly a feel-good story. And, for the Bandit and his family, there may not even be a happy ending: Prosecutors are reportedly seeking to deny Harris-Moore or his mother any profits from the book or film projects. Instead, they want that money redistributed to the victims of the crimes.

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