“Barefoot Bandit” Had Troubled, Theft-Filled Childhood

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AP Photo/Island County Sheriff's Office via The Herald, File

According to a new report, “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore’s thieving started early, while growing up in a volatile household and bullying classmates in school.

The New York Times took a look at Harris-Moore’s home life, and found that it wasn’t pretty. His mother reportedly did not keep food in the house at times, so he would steal food from nearby homes in Puget Sound. Child protective services were called to their home several times before Harris-Moore was 15 years old. Many people in his neighborhood remember him searching for a parental influence, asking people to make him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — while stealing their stuff in secret.

One thing the story doesn’t uncover, though, is how Harris-Moore learned how to fly a plane. He’s accused of stealing five planes, crash landing each one of them and walking away scot-free.

The story paints a sad picture of a young man who turned into a fugitive folk hero. As for the admiration on Facebook, his lawyer says “he’s not into any of that. He just wants to get this behind him.” (See TIME’s list of the top 10 bandits.)

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