By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer
McMINNVILLE, Ore. — Graham Goad became suspicious when hot dogs began to disappear from his office at the McMinnville Municipal Airport.
Goad, the airport manager, twice opened his refrigerator to discover missing food.
There was more that was out of place. His computer had been reset and the Internet connection unplugged.
When he learned that an Enterprise rental car was stolen from the small airport, he thought about Colton Harris-Moore, the notorious teenage fugitive from Camano Island.
Now, it looks like Harris-Moore could have completed a tour of Oregon and be headed into Idaho, Goad said.
Police in McMinnville, in western Oregon, and in Ontario, in eastern Oregon, are investigating vehicle thefts and airplane hangar burglaries. Other police departments have previously linked those type of crimes to Harris-Moore.
A Cadillac Escalade was stolen on June 9 from McMinnville and recovered the following day at the airport in Ontario, a small border town northwest of Boise, Idaho.
An airport hangar there was broken into and a pilot’s truck was stolen. Police found that stolen truck between Ontario and Boise.
It also appears that a hangar was burglarized in McMinnville, where Goad works.
If Harris-Moore is in Idaho, it won’t be the first time the 19-year-old serial burglar has been sought by law enforcement in that state. He’s suspected of stealing a plane from a small airport in the northern Idaho panhandle in October and later crashing it near Granite Falls.
The teen’s trail of suspected crimes — including stolen planes, cars and boats — now stretches through three states and British Columbia. He’s been a fugitive since April 2008 and is being sought by the FBI and local law enforcement.
In late May, along a route that appears to extend from the Kitsap Peninsula south to the southwestern corner of the state, the 6-foot, 5-inch teen stopped to leave a message.
A handwritten note signed by the teenager was left at a veterinary clinic on May 30 or 31 and police have confirmed its authenticity, according to The Herald’s news partner KIRO-TV.
The note left at a Raymond, Wash., clinic reads: “Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this cash for the care of animals — Colton Harris-Moore, (AKA: “The Barefoot Bandit”) Camano Island, WA.”
Police confirmed to the CBS news program “48 Hours” that fingerprints taken from the note match Harris-Moore.
A police operator in Raymond authenticated the story Thursday and said the note was a low priority for police since there was no evidence of a crime in that community.
Harris-Moore reportedly has a love of animals. He’s been called the “Barefoot Bandit” by some media outlets after reports that he sometimes flees crime scenes shoeless. Officials said he most often wears shoes.
Police in Warrenton, Ore., just across the Columbia River, said Harris-Moore may be responsible for a string of crimes there on June 1. They are investigating a boat theft, an attempted airplane theft and a car theft — all crimes similar to those linked to the teenager.
The car stolen from Warrenton was ditched in the rural town of Dayton, a few miles from McMinnville.
The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office last pinned Harris-Moore’s location to Lopez Island.
Surveillance video on May 15 captured the image of a person police believe to be Harris-Moore just before a boat was stolen from a marina at the island’s north end. That boat was found adrift off the southern tip of Camano Island the next day.
Another boat was taken, this time from the south end of Whidbey Island a few days later. It was found aground near Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula. Speculation swirled that Harris-Moore was responsible.
While investigators still are collecting evidence, at least this much appears to be clear about the elusive teen.
“He’s hungry and likes to travel,” Goad said.
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, firstname.lastname@example.org.