'Barefoot Bandit' Was a Hungry, Beaten Kid Thief

He stole to survive a hard-scrabble life
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jul 22, 2010 3:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – The busted Facebook-glamorous "Barefoot Bandit" started life as a pitiable little boy, beaten and hungry, who turned to thieving as a way to survive, the New York Times reports. Colton Harris-Moore lived a hard-scrabble life in a squalid trailer on a dead-end road less than an hour from Seattle, where he used to steal cookies and pizzas from a neighbor's freezer. Harris-Moore's mother screamed so loudly at him and beat him so severely that child protection staffers were called to the boy's home at least a dozen times.

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“Colton wants Mom to stop drinking and smoking, get a job and have food in the house,” a child protection report noted after Harris-Moore's first arrest at the age of 12. “Mom refuses.” As for his current Facebook popularity, “he says he’s not into any of that,” said a former lawyer. “He just wants to get this behind him. I think if he had proper direction, he wouldn’t have done what he did.” (Read more Barefoot Bandit stories.)

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