Bounty hunter offers his help to bring in Colton Harris-Moore

CAMANO ISLAND — An Everett bounty hunter has offered to join the search for Colton Harris-Moore, the notorious fugitive and serial burglar.

Mike Rocha, the owner of the Bail Enforcement Agency, said he’ll provide his services free of charge. Working with All City Bail Bonds, of Seattle, he’ll also contribute $2,500 to a private reward fund for information leading to Harris-Moore’s arrest.

“We have this problem that faces our society, and we want to help address it,” Rocha said Friday.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown on Friday said he cannot and will not sanction any private vigilante efforts, reward funds or the use of private bounty hunters.

“I cannot promote or participate in this as a solution to the problem,” Brown said. “I will continue to share investigative information with the various police agencies involved in apprehending Colton Harris-Moore, but not to private interest groups, bounty hunters, etc.”

Harris-Moore, 19, has been on the run since he escaped from a Renton group home in April 2008. Since then, he’s suspected of breaking into dozens of homes and business in five Washington counties, British Columbia and Idaho. Police also believe he’s taken four planes, luxury cars and power boats.

So far agents with the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and police trained in mantracking haven’t been able to take Harris-Moore into custody.

Rocha said he plans to work as a liaison between law enforcement and the community, developing information from tipsters and trying to reach Harris-Moore to convince him to surrender to police.

“He has a bright future, he has to get this behind him,” Rocha said. “If he doesn’t want to step forward, we can use this tipster money to lure him out.”

Rocha was contacted by a Seattle blogger who is trying to build a website community interested in apprehending Harris-Moore. The site, catchthebarefootbandit.wordpress.com, is attempting to become a rallying point for neighbors and victims to speak out against the teen’s status as a folk hero.

More details about the private efforts and the reward fund, which now totals about $6,000 will be announced Tuesday night at a Camano Island community meeting, the blogger said. He has asked that his name not be used, fearing retaliation.

“Given the tremendous public outcry, it’s natural that individuals and organizations would want to offer their expertise,” the man said.

San Juan County sheriff’s officials on Wednesday released surveillance video taken on a Lopez Island dock on May 14. Detectives believe the images show Harris-Moore prowling the marina.

A boat was reported stolen the next day and recovered adrift of the south end of Camano Island, where Harris-Moore grew up.

Police said a different boat was recovered Monday near Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula. That boat was taken from the south end of Whidbey Island. There’s no evidence linking that theft to Harris-Moore, but detectives cannot rule him out.

“We do not know if Colton Harris-Moore is currently on Camano Island,” the Island County sheriff said. “We do ask citizens to remain vigilant, reporting any and all suspicious activity.”

Rocha said he can’t guarantee he’ll be able to snare Harris-Moore.

“We may or may not,” he said. “All of these things combined will help bring him out. This effort will help protect the public.”

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

Community meeting Tuesday

A community meeting to discuss the notorious fugitive Colton Harris-Moore is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the gymnasium at the Elger Bay Elementary School, 1810 Elger Bay Road.

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