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June 22, 2010 06:35 PM

Barefoot Bandit Hits Lawrence County

Lawrence County, SD


He's 19, a suspected serial criminal and it turns out he may have spent about five days in South Dakota.


Colton Harris-Moore, known as the Barefoot Bandit, is wanted for a laundry list of crimes over the past two years. That includes stealing cars, planes and break-ins at homes and airports.

If Harris-Moore is in fact responsible, officials believe he came to South Dakota with a car stolen out of Wyoming. He ditched it and made his way to the Spearfish airport, where he broke in not once but twice.

The saga began for Lawrence County Sheriff Department Detective Marty Goetsch a week ago Monday morning with a call from Eagle Aviation at the Spearfish airport.

"At that time, we began an investigation into a break-in at the main terminal area," Goetsch said.

Ray Jilek owns Eagle Aviation and tells KELOLAND News someone stole two $1 bills and $2 in quarters Monday night. Other than that, nothing appeared to be out of place but that was just the beginning.

"We returned Tuesday morning to find that whoever broke in on Monday night had returned and broke in again," Goetsch said.

This time, officials say their prime suspect, the so-called Barefoot Bandit, wasn't as cautious. Doors were left wide open and the intruder went through everything, even taking an undisclosed amount of cash and about 19 gallons of aviation fuel. But the puzzle was still unraveling.

"We started putting some pieces together when we found a car that was stolen out of Buffalo, Wyoming," Goetsch said.

Sarah Dittman noticed it in front of her business Monday morning. She didn't think much of it until the next day when it was still there.

"Tuesday morning I thought, you know that's strange that it's still here, so let's call the police and let them know," Dittman said.

Police arrived within minutes to find the car they believe Harris-Moore used to get to town and then found out how he likely left.

"We learned later on that a pickup was missing from our airport," Goetsch said.

Authorities believe that's how Harris-Moore got to Yankton where a new spree began.

The car stolen out of Spearfish was found in Yankton last Tuesday, but a Yankton homeowner didn't have the run-in with him there until Friday.

Yankton officials say it will still be about a week before evidence at the crime lab can help them confirm Harris-Moore was responsible for crimes there.

A trail of stolen vehicles has since taken the crime spree to Pella, Iowa.
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