Los Angeles: A teenager dubbed the "Barefoot Bandit" was sentenced to more than seven years in jail for a string of audacious crimes across the United States, which ended with his arrest in the Bahamas.

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, pleaded guilty to his crimes in the northwestern US state of Washington, where he was flown last year following his arrest after a high-speed boat chase.

Harris-Moore -- whose nickname stems from the discovery of bare footprints at his crime scenes -- admitted charges including bank robbery, stealing an aircraft, flying a plane without a license and stealing a boat.

Judge Vickie Churchill said Harris-Moore's childhood was "little better than a dog's" with an abusive and alcoholic mother, although that could not excuse his crimes.

"This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's also a triumph of the human spirit in other ways," she said, calling his upbringing a "mind-numbing absence of hope."

But imposing the more than seven year sentence for 33 felony charges -- 32 of which Harris-Moore admitted to – the judge said: "The damage to his victims was high, and they continue on."

A 2009 criminal complaint alleged that Harris-Moore stole a USD 340,000 Cessna plane from Idaho and flew it to Washington after committing a string of burglaries and vehicle thefts in the United States and Canada.

He was accused of residential and commercial burglaries, vehicle theft and assaults on law enforcement officers, the complaint added.

Prosecutor Randall Gaylord told the court how Harris-Moore stole a crowbar and bolt cutters from a hardware store -- then used the tools to break into the store again.

"It shows planning, sophistication, premeditation, all the kind of things that run counter to what ... some of the other experts may say about him," he said.

Harris-Moore was arrested in July 2010 in the Bahamas, after a dramatic high-speed boat chase on Bahamas Harbour Island, one week after police found the wreckage of a stolen plane they believe he flew to the archipelago.

His youth and the bold nature of his crimes have turned him into a folk hero for some, who have romanticised him as a latter-day Billy the Kid.

The judge on Friday voiced sympathy for Harris-Moore, but said she had no alternative to jailing him.

(Agencies)