By now, you’ve may have heard the legend of Colton “Colt” Harris-Moore. The 18-year-old bandit has become the so-called Jesse James of the gamer generation. Across the islands of Western Washington, he has been allegedly robbing homes, busting into ATMs, stealing laptops, hijacking boats, and, most dramatically, joyriding and crashing stolen planes in the woods. He got the nickname the “barefoot burglar” after getting caught leaving crime scenes with no shoes.
Moore is still at large – and his legend is spreading fast, and selling. What’s interesting is how this elusive criminal has become sort of like a real-life digital star, with a meta-game of "players" tracking him down. The Colton Harris-Moore fan club now boasts 7,000 members, with posts from Iowa to Italy. There are Colton Harris-Moore t-shirts, messenger bags, and bumper stickers. Hackers set up fake Colton Harris-Moore email addresses to lure and dupe hapless Hollywood producers (it’s working). “Fly Colt Fly!” is the motto of Moore-heads. Something about this kid’s brash style and escapist dreams is seducing admirers across the Web. “This dude rocks,” posted one fan, “Reminds me of myself when I was his age. STAY FREE, COLT!!!!!!!”
David Kushner is the author of many books, including Masters of Doom, Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids, Levittown, The Bones of Marianna, and Alligator Candy. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, he has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine.