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Neighbors suspect Colton Harris-Moore in Sandy Hook burglaries; police say there's no proof
A series of break-ins and two stolen boats are fueling speculation in the Sandy Hook neighborhood near Possession Point south of Clinton that a notorious felon from Camano Island may have paid a visit.
Officials are reluctant to link 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore to the crimes, however, saying the proof isn't there.
"It doesn't appear there's any direct evidence to prove it's him," Island County Sheriff's Detective Ed Wallace said Tuesday.
But others are wondering.
"I'm not a detective, and it may be premature," Dave Rasmussen, harbormaster at the Sandy Hook Marina, said Tuesday. "But it sure seems like similar behavior."
Harris-Moore grew up on the south end of Camano Island and is suspected in dozens of burglaries at homes and businesses around the Pacific Northwest. Police believe he has stolen at least four small planes, several boats and expensive cars.
On the run from a group home in Renton for more than two years, he has been suspected of burglarizing beach homes for food and shelter, and stealing boats to crisscross Puget Sound from the San Juan Islands south.
He has sometimes been called the "barefoot bandit" because it's believed he wore no shoes while operating in the San Juans.
According to Jim Dyment, president of the Sandy Hook Homeowners Association, local events began with a report from a neighbor who lives in California that her Sandy Hook vacation home had been broken into. Food had been taken, and it appeared as if someone had been living there, her relatives told her.
This past week, a large quantity of food including pizza, bread and yogurt were reported stolen from the freezer in the garage of another house while the residents were home, Dyment said. A couple of days later, the freezer was hit again.
On Monday, another Sandy Hook homeowner received a call from the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, saying deputies had found his 26-foot power boat run aground at Point No Point, Dyment said.
The boat apparently had been taken from the Sandy Hook Marina sometime Sunday night. Left in its slip was a 10-foot dinghy reportedly stolen earlier from the other side of the marina, Rasmussen said.
Later reports indicated two other boats in the marina had been burglarized, and that there were signs of attempted break-ins of at least two other homes in the neighborhood.
"This has never happened before," Rasmussen said of the neighborhood that's about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. "We'll be taking some extra precautions, but I'm not sure what yet."
Dyment said most of the incidents in the neighborhood probably occurred at night, since the area is used extensively by walkers, residents and visitors during the day.
He said that there have been no recent reports of suspicious persons in the area, nor suspicious bicycles. Harris-Moore has been thought to use a bicycle at times for transportation.
Officials say Harris-Moore has been connected to 20 to 30 burglaries in Island County. He has been described as 6 foot 3 inches or 6 foot 5 inches, 205 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. He reportedly has a scar on his left arm from a knife wound.
Thousands of fans have visited a Facebook page about him, and he has been featured in magazines and on television. A Hollywood studio also optioned the movie rights to his story.
Meanwhile, Harris-Moore's name also came up in speculation about a 30-foot boat stolen from a Lopez Island marina in the San Juans on May 15 and later found abandoned and adrift in Saratoga Passage off Langley.
The theft happened one day after a 24-foot boat was stolen at Friday Harbor.
That vessel, according to an Juan County Sheriff's Office, was found beached on Lopez Island on May 14. Police believe it was stolen from a home on the southern end of San Juan Island, and that the home was also burglarized.
Both Wallace and Dyment scolded Sandy Hook residents for not reporting thefts and burglaries earlier.
"If you have a crime, don't tell your neighbors about it, tell the police first," Wallace said.
Meanwhile, whether or not the Sandy Hook incidents can be pinned on Harris-Moore may be moot at this point, Dyment said.
"It looks like it's Kitsap County's problem now," he said.