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Originally published December 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 26, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Teen burglar held at juvenile facility

Last winter, teenage truant Colton "Colt" Harris-Moore was a nettle in the Camano Island community, thwarting Island County sheriff's deputies...

Times Snohomish County bureau

Last winter, teenage truant Colton "Colt" Harris-Moore was a nettle in the Camano Island community, thwarting Island County sheriff's deputies by hiding in the woods, breaking into empty vacation homes and bunking with friends as he honed his burglary and survival skills.

Now Harris-Moore, 16, is serving time at Green Hill School in Chehalis. Originally charged with 23 criminal counts — in connection with possessing stolen property, burglary, theft and other offenses — he agreed to a plea bargain in June. He pleaded guilty to three counts of residential burglary and was sentenced to at least three years in the state's juvenile-detention system.

Harris-Moore spent seven months on the run from deputies, using stolen credit-card numbers to make Internet purchases of computer equipment and survival gear such as police scanners, two-way radios, flashlights and electronic devices. He'd then intercept the deliveries made to his victims' homes.

He was captured in February after someone noticed lights on in a home that should have been vacant. Sheriff Mark Brown, who had just taken office in January, had made Harris-Moore's arrest a top priority by appealing to the public for tips.

Neighbors described the teen as a "clean-cut" youth who could charm people one day and break into their homes the next. Local residents for years had suspected he was responsible for the mysterious disappearances of various household items.

His criminal record began at age 12, and he was convicted seven times — for assault and breaking into homes, schools and a local library — before his final spree.

Neighbors said they had called Child Protective Services numerous times over the years with worries Harris-Moore was being neglected or abused. Since birth, he had lived with his mother in slumlike conditions in a trailer in the woods.

Dan Robertson, an administrator with the state Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, praised Green Hill as a "really good" high school, with a quality vocational program and mental-health and counseling services.

"Some of our residential institutions are the best place for kids to be," he said.

Diane Brooks: 425-745-7802 or dbrooks@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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