A quick refresher before we begin, because (a) it’s been a little while since we discussed the Ballad of Guy Fieri’s Stolen Lamborghini, and (b) I really, really like talking about it.
- About two years ago, Guy Fieri’s yellow Lamborghini was stolen from a California dealership by a thief who rappelled down from the ceiling and drove it straight out the front door.
- Anthony Bourdain found it hilarious.
- The crime went unsolved for over a year, until police found the car in a storage locker belonging to Max Wade, a 17-year-old who had allegedly just tried to mow down two other teenagers in a motorcycle drive-by.
- The storage locker contained “a potpourri of gadgetry,” including: guns, disguises, cell phone jammers, police scanners, dismantled assault weapons, and a full San Francisco police uniform.
- While Wade was in juvy awaiting trial, two suspects tried to break him out by knocking a hole in the wall with a damn sledgehammer.
- Two of his idiot friends made a rap song and music video that tried to “support” him by basically admitting that he did all the stuff he is accused of doing.
In short, it is the greatest story of all time, and ever since all the loony details started leaking out I have been impatiently waiting for someone to sort through them all and put together a huge profile of young Mr. Wade. This week, San Francisco Magazine granted my wish. The article is fascinating, detailing Wade’s troubled youth, the escapades of his gold-digging mother, and all the various checkpoints he allegedly blew past on the way to a life of crime. You should read the whole thing, but if all you’re looking for is the stuff about parties and Fast and Furious-style sports car theft, it’s got you covered there, too.
First, the specifics of the theft, featuring a mysterious vanishing janitor:
The thief broke in by rappelling to the second floor (police haven’t said how he attached the rope to the roof) and slipping through a window that had been left conveniently, if mysteriously, unlocked. (The building’s janitor—who was supposed to be long gone but, for unexplained reasons, was still working that morning— might have cleared up the mystery, but he has, even more mysteriously, vanished.) The window faces Olive Street, a shadowed, one-way alley squeezed between the dealership’s two buildings. Once inside, the thief moved fast, cutting the lock on one of the roll-up steel doors that open onto Olive Street. Leaving the office and the other luxury cars untouched, he went straight for the Lamborghini, started the engine, put the car in gear, and drove out the door without tripping the dealership’s motion sensors or perimeter alarms (another mystery). When employees arrived, they found the door still raised, as well as the climbing rope in a duffel bag, a pry bar, bolt cutters, and a water bladder. The car, meanwhile, had long since disappeared across the Golden Gate Bridge.
And in case you were wondering if a guy who rappelled into a car dealership to steal a Lamborghini might also be the kind of guy who would throw a party in someone else’s multi-million dollar mansion when they were out of town, the answer is yes. Obviously:
The party Max allegedly threw in February 2012, two months before the shooting, can be read as an expression of loneliness as much as bravado. Max knew that the biggest, fanciest house in his old neighborhood—a $7 million, 7,450-square-foot mansion on the highest point of Tiburon’s Sugarloaf Drive—was occupied for only part of the year. So one night, Max broke in and threw a party. A few dozen teens showed up. This is my house, he told his guests. He had plenty of cash, he drove a Lamborghini—why wouldn’t they believe him?
What is Max up to now, you ask? Oh, you know, just trying to look like Pablo Escobar during his trial, to the delight of at least one wildly unprofessional female prosecutor:
What Max wants, apparently, is to look like a gangster. Since his arrest six months before, Marin County’s most notorious teenager has traded the trim coiffure of his carefree ID-forging years for longer waves, a side part, and a pencil-thin mustache. From a certain angle, he bears a striking resemblance to Pablo Escobar, the legendary leader of one of the most powerful Colombian drug cartels of the 1980s. And while Max falls something short of Medellín standards, his image update seems to be having its desired effect: “He’s fine!” swoons a female prosecutor on an unrelated case who has come to the courtroom to gawk.
And finally, a little perspective:
There are two ways to look at the Lamborghini story. One—the way it’s been played out in the press—is as a masterful heist straight out of Ocean’s Eleven or Gone in 60 Seconds, with the buffoonish bleached-blond chef Guy Fieri playing the unsympathetic victim and providing comic relief. That’s probably how Max—assuming that he is the thief, which his lawyer disputes—prefers to think of it, too. The other way is as a tragedy of wasted potential, a genius gone wrong. If 16-year-old Max Wade had the intelligence and discipline to pull off such a complicated caper, then surely an adult Max could have done lots more with his life.
I choose to look at it both ways.