Folk hero or just plain criminal?

The "Barefoot Bandit" might be about to don prison shoes.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, was caught in the Bahamas Sunday after a movie-like high speed boat chase. He was paraded before the media, and of course he was barefoot.

He was due in court in Nassau Tuesday on suspicion of illegal weapons possession and what officials described as a "litany" of other charges.

Some people, including some younger people here in Mitchell, have cheered him on. They have dubbed him a folk hero. People whose homes, boats and airplanes he is reported to have broken into, damaged or crashed are less complimentary.

What’s your take? Robin Hood or just a robber from a small-town ‘hood?

Here’s some insight on why authorities use nicknames to catch crooks. In an open society, the media and public play important roles to stop crime and catch the bad guys and gals:

10 thoughts on “Folk hero or just plain criminal?

  1. The dictionary describes a hero as “a man of great courage; one admired for his exploits”. A hero is someone who will give up his life for his family or country. NOT a screwed up kid who enjoys the publicity and has no respect for his own family, other people or the property of others. This little creep is no hero in my book.

  2. Criminal. He threatened to shoot and kill one of our fellow South Dakotans. He served no greater good, only his ego with his crimes. Pure egomaniac/sociopath.

  3. Criminal. That he has attracted so much fascination says a lot about us as it does about him. The [1:53 pm, 7/13/10] poster seems to imply — or at least should have anticipated that many, if not most, might well infer that if there was “some greater good” that maybe there could be a justification for the folk hero label. Maybe that case could be made for very compelling situations, but definitely not in this case. Let this criminal enjoy his “Facebook folk hero” or cult status and let him suffer the consequences for a long, long time.

  4. I can see where he got the Robin Hood-like following early on. He was breaking into what most of us would qualify as very wealthy people’s homes on Camano Island.

    Before anyone takes this the wrong way, I AM NOT ADVOCATING THEFT NO MATTER THE INCOME BRACKET. He committed crimes and deserved to pay his dues. I’m just commenting on his cult status.

    He’s a modern day Frank Abagnale Jr. You can’t deny that he’s obviously very smart, being able to fly planes and drive boats with no formal training on either. He’s also very troubled. I’m not excusing his actions by any means. But certainly you can see why some folks view him as more than the average criminal.

    I have been following this case from the beginning, and I didn’t hear anything about him threatening to kill anyone. Do you have a link to where that was reported?

  5. I don’t know, but flying a stolen plane without a pilots license is certainly a danger to others! This character obviously didn’t know how to fly and certainly was a threat to someones life…many lives for that matter. I don’t consider that “smart”. I’m surprised at yo, “the artist formerly knows as meeps”. You usually show very good sense, but we are all entilted to a goof-up or two. At least you were not advocating that it is OK to steal as long as the victim has some cash. Good job.

  6. Somehow, I knew that if I didn’t spell it out exactly, someone would take my comment the wrong way. On this blog, it seems like people are a little too excited to take things the wrong way, and I think it really hinders what could be a great, intelligent dialogue among neighbors. It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine that the people behind these ever-changing pseudonyms are the same folks who live in the town that I love. We may know each other, or each other’s families! I digress.

    I can’t believe that I have to specifically repudiate all of his actions for someone to NOT jump to the incorrect conclusion that I think his multi-state crime spree was entertainment or something.

    I never said that what he did wasn’t dangerous. I never said it was a good idea. I never said I think he’s a hero. Please let me draw your attention to the following:

    “He committed crimes and deserved to pay his dues.”
    “I’m not excusing his actions by any means.”

    I only wanted to comment about the fact that I understand why some people might view him as more than the average criminal. I understand why some people like country music. I don’t like it myself, but I can understand why others do.

    I also think we should reconsider giving these idiots nicknames. The repetition of “Barefoot Bandit” may help sell papers, but it also helps elevate the status he doesn’t deserve. Perhaps Seth or Tom could drop in and let us know when or why newspapers print the nicknames.

  7. Nicknames are usually created by headline writers, TV comics and Chris Berman.
    But cops craft them, too. And for a reason: It helps keep the bad guys and gals in the spotlight while regular Janes and Joes become aware of these bad folks in their midst.
    Here’s a link (copy and paste, please) to a story explaining why cops use nicknames to capture fugitives.
    In our open society, the public and media have a role to play and smart cops use that. It’s like the storm warnings we hear and read so often.
    And it’s worth noting that regular citizens in The Bahamas helped catch the Barefoot Lad, Cheek Now Of Jailhouse Pallor.

  8. From the article:
    “The so-called Barefoot Bandit’s quirky nickname has grabbed as much attention as his alleged exploits.
    But crime-fighting experts say such names are more than just a catchy way to remember suspects. They’re part of a proven strategy to help nab them.
    “It’s an investigative tool,” says Bill Rehder, a retired FBI special agent and author of “Where the Money Is: True Tales from the Bank Robbery Capital of the World.”
    During his 31-year career investigating bank robberies for the FBI’s field office in Los Angeles, California, Rehder says he often relied on nicknames to help keep suspects straight and generate publicity.”

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