Colton Harris-Moore was arrested before dawn on northern Eleuthera island, the police official said. He said the suspect would soon be flown to Nassau, the capital, where the Royal Bahamas Police Force would hold a news conference.
Island police have been searching for him since he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane a week ago on nearby Great Abaco Island.
Harris-Moore, who has been running from American law enforcement since escaping from a Washington state halfway house in 2008, gained fame and thousands of fans who admired his ability to evade arrest.
He is suspected of stealing cars, boats and at least five planes, including the aircraft he allegedly stole in Indiana and flew to the islands off Florida’s coast, despite a lack of formal flight training.
The 19-year-old is a skilled outdoorsman who honed his abilities growing up in the woods of Camano Island in Puget Sound, about 50 km north of Seattle.
Island police picked up his trail in Eleuthera after recovering a 44-foot power boat stolen from a marina on Abaco, 65 km to the north, where he was suspected in a string of burglaries.
Ferry boat captain Freddie Grant said he was returning from Harbour Island in northern Eleuthera on Wednesday evening when he saw a tall, white teenager bathing or swimming in an inlet near the ferry landing. Ferry service employee Stan Pennerman also said he saw Harris-Moore lurking in the woods the same day.
Neither man thought much of it till they noticed the next morning that somebody had damaged the ignition system on three of their boats.
A bar at the ferry landing was also burglarised on Wednesday night by a thief who cut a screen to break in, dismantled a security light, and moved the television’s remote controls, said Denaldo Bain, the 30-year-old manager of Coakley’s International Sporting Lounge.
He was dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit” for allegedly going shoeless during some crimes and once allegedly leaving behind chalk footprints as a calling card.
He has become a folk hero to supporters, who have bought “Run, Colton, Run” T-shirts and written songs about his exploits. He has tens of thousands of followers on Facebook.