Thoughts on the "Barefoot Bandit"

Over the weekend, police in the Bahamas arrested fugitive American teen Colton Harris-Moore, also known by the pictureseque moniker "the Barefoot Bandit." 19-year-old Harris-Moore had been on the lam for two years, stealing cars, boats and planes in his elusive cross-country flight from the law. His mother observed that he was a genius-level intellect, supposedly "one point less than Einstein," she said. He managed to elude the cops for a couple of years, but I'd have to say that going to the Bahamas was not the act of a genius.

Why? Well, a criminal on the lam wants to try to blend in as well as he can, to "swim in the sea of the people." A 6'5" white teen is likely to stand out just about anywhere he goes, but especially in the Bahamas, where 85% of the population is black, according to the CIA World Factbook. And it's always a bad idea to flee to an island, where the authorities can patrol off shore and close down airfields to cut off escape options.

Harris-Moore's other mistake was in continuing his criminal career past the age of 18. Prior to that, non-violent offenders usually have their records expunged once they reach adulthood. It's like baseball's Grapefruit and Cactus League exhibition games: They don't really count for anything in the standings. Once the regular season starts, though, everything counts. And so it is for an 18-year-old criminal. No more juvenile courts, no more halfway houses, no more slaps on the wrist. The wisest course for a 17-year-old with larceny in his heart is to "go straight" -- and enter politics if he still feels those larcenous impulses after age 18. John Dillinger was a piker compared to the average congressman.