GRANITE FALLS, Wash. - Investigators say they haven't ruled out a connection between teenage serial burglar Colton Harris-Moore and a small plane that crash-landed this week in an isolated area near Granite Falls.
The Cessna 182 was stolen Tuesday from the Boundary County Airport near Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and was spotted Thursday in a clear-cut area southeast of Granite Falls.
"It looks to us like the plane made a hard landing, but that landing did look survivable, and we did not find anyone in or around the plane," said Snohomish County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Rebecca Hover.
Hover said investigators have not identified any suspects in the plane theft and crash. "We're still working on our investigation," she said.
But Island County sheriff's detective Ed Wallace said authorities have not ruled out a connection between the plane crash and Harris-Moore, 18, who went on a burglary spree for two years on Camano Island.
Harris-Moore escaped from a Renton juvenile security facility in April 2008, and now detectives say he may be living in the woods and stealing cash, tools and food.
Investigators believe Harris-Moore is responsible for 13 recent burglaries in San Juan County, along with two stolen boats and possibly two previous stolen planes, San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming said.
Harris-Moore apparently has a basic knowledge of how to fly a plane, but investigators say in both the previous thefts he damaged the planes in hard landings.
The plane found near Granite Falls also made a hard landing that damaged it, Hover said.
"It can't be flown out," she said.
Hover said the FBI has been called in to assist in the investigation. Island County sheriff's detectives also are assisting.
In the meantime, she said, searchers are combing through the nearby woods to "make sure that we don't have any injured people in the area or any suspects."
She said the plane could have crashed as early as Tuesday, but because of the remoteness of the location it wasn't spotted until Thursday.
A logger was the first one to see the crashed plane, and he alerted authorities.
Officials said the plane was stolen just a few days after burglaries were reported at another local airport about 35 miles from the Boundary County Airport in Idaho.