Sure, BB was a two-year fugitive from justice as he fled in stolen boats, airplanes and cars — one even stolen right here in Cody — but he meant no harm, really. Boys will be boys, and he was after all only 17 when his daring shenanigans …
Alleged” felons need love too, ya know. Every now and then comes a criminal so warm and cuddly as to worm his way into the heart of even the most law-abiding citizen like myself.
Colton Harris-Moore, the “Barefoot Bandit,” is such a fellow. When I saw his post-capture, self-photo on the front page of Saturday’s Billings Gazette, I thought, “Why, he’s cute as a bug’s ear.”
Sure, BB was a two-year fugitive from justice as he fled in stolen boats, airplanes and cars — one even stolen right here in Cody — but he meant no harm, really. Boys will be boys, and he was after all only 17 when his daring shenanigans began.
The young rapscallion hopscotched across this great nation, frequently crash-landing stolen planes and stealing cars from small airport parking lots. He never taunted, “Catch me if you can,” but he quickly gained cult status in his cat-and-mouse game with authorities. He gave them every advantage; heck, he didn’t even wear shoes most of the time. After stealing a pistol in British Columbia, he stole a plane from a hangar in Idaho, where “investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall.”
It makes you wonder if he also could walk on water. Equally amazing is that this kid — without ever taking a flying lesson — was able to pilot and safely crash-land these planes. Amazing, but as Shania Twain sang, “That don’t impress me much.”
No, THIS is what impressed me: “He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen in eastern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash.”
And there you have it: a young fella whose life has gone astray, but with a heart of gold. He had the abusive, neglectful upbringing that shackles so many criminals, but unlike so many, he didn’t physically hurt others or abuse animals. Quite the contrary, so surely there might be a room in heaven for this enterprising, yet misguided chap (although he may be required to wear an ankle bracelet for a while).
Yes, he may have committed dozens of crimes across the USA — and not victimless crimes, I agree — before being captured in the Bahamas after flying there in a stolen plane from Indiana. But all things considered, this is a much better man at heart than your neighbor who kicks his dog in anger or leaves it chained in the backyard with no companionship.
Besides the rare, non-violent criminal with enough animal compassion to stop and donate to a shelter, I’ve always had a soft-spot for non-violent, idiot criminals also. My favorite was one on “World’s Dumbest Criminals,” when officers recounted a recent, suspected DWI stop, where, one by one, passengers crawled out of the vehicle as ordered.
After about six of these tipsy revelers stood with hands in the air, the driver literally crawled out of the passenger door. As one officer related, “He slowly got up, staggered over to my side and slurred in a whisper, “Tell ’em you was driving.”
Back to our lovable Barefoot Bandit though, the article states, “Harris-Moore smiled and greeted his lawyers as he entered the courtroom Friday. He sat quietly — sometimes smiling and sometimes holding his hands and looking down — as Judge Richard Jones went over the details of his crimes.” The U.S. Attorney said “He will spend a significant time in prison and will not make one dime from his crimes.”
Under a plea agreement, Harris-Moore forfeits any future earnings from movie, book or other deals from selling his story. Profits would be used to pay off the $1.4 million in restitution he owes to his many victims. OK, that’s fair, but I hope they’ve knocked off that $100 he gave to the shelter. I cannot stress that enough!
Judging from his boyish photo, Justin Bieber would be perfect for the lead role in the Barefoot Bandit movie. Maybe I could play fellow Cody roofer, Dan Snow of High Country Roofing, where BB broke in and heisted a truck during his crime spree, which he drove until it ran out of gas near Douglas. I think I could play a middle-aged roofer rather effectively.
And my dogs Trinity and Trina would be perfect in non-speaking roles as boarders at the Raymond, Wash., animal shelter. We as a family would just be honored to be in there somewhere.
So what did we learn here today? Well, sometimes good people do bad things, flying instructions are overrated, and dogs are the common denominator of a good heart. And possibly that I lack perspective when it comes to hero-worshiping.