The celebrity teenager known as the Barefoot Bandit sealed his downfall when he was captured in the Bahamas after running rings around the law for two years.
Colton Harris-Moore (19) stayed a step ahead of the law by stealing cars, powerboats and even aircraft, while building a reputation as a 21st-century folk hero.
He earned the Barefoot Bandit nickname because he allegedly went shoeless for some of his crimes.
But witnesses on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera recognised Harris-Moore and called the police, who captured him after a high-speed boat chase yesterday, Bahamas police commissioner Ellison Greenslade said at a celebratory news conference in the capital Nassau.
Mr Greenslade said shots were fired during the water chase but did not say who fired them. He also said Harris-Moore was carrying a handgun that he tried to throw away.
But another senior police officer said police had fired to disable the motor on the suspect's stolen boat and that Harris-Moore threw his gun in the water. The official, also said police recovered a laptop and a GPS locator from Harris-Moore.
Police flew Harris-Moore in shackles to Nassau and, true to his nickname, the 6ft 5in teenager was shoeless as he walked off the plane, wearing short camouflage cargo trousers, a white long-sleeved shirt and a bulletproof vest.
Harris-Moore is blamed for several thefts in the Bahamas in the week since allegedly crash-landing a stolen plane there and Bahamian authorities say he will be prosecuted for those crimes before the start of any US extradition proceedings.
Harris-Moore had been on the run since escaping from a Washington state halfway house in 2008. He is accused of breaking into dozens of homes and committing burglaries across Washington, as well as in British Columbia and Idaho.
He is also suspected of stealing at least five planes -- including the aircraft he allegedly took in Indiana and flew more than 1,000 miles to the Bahamas, despite a lack of flight training.
Through it all, his ranks of supporters grew. Some of his more-than 60,000 Facebook fans posted disappointed messages yesterday, while others promoted T-shirts and tote bags with the words 'Free Colton!' and 'Let Colton Fly!'