02/22/2013 02:05 pm ET

Max Wade: How One Marin Teen Became Northern California's Biggest Outlaw

HE HAD PULLED OFF THE PERFECT HEIST. Now the man on the motorcycle looked ready for the perfect murder. He buzzed through the overcast Marin streets on an ’80s-era Honda, his slim frame almost completely hidden under layers of black. Stopping for gas at the Strawberry Chevron on Redwood Highway, he paid in cash and kept the tinted visor of his helmet down. He’d taken other steps to conceal his identity as well, packing a .38 caliber revolver registered to someone else and lifting the bike’s license plate from a Suzuki he had found parked on a street 11 miles away, in San Francisco’s Marina district. When the small-town cops went looking for clues, he reckoned, nothing would point to a 17-year-old from swanky Tiburon, and certainly not to the intrepid thief who the year before had rappelled, Mission Impossible–style, into a luxury car dealership and driven away in a $220,000 yellow Lamborghini owned by a Food Network host.

Yet for all his evasive maneuvers, the motorcyclist had made himself blatantly, almost comically conspicuous. His brand-new helmet was a flashy, futuristic model, the logo “BILT” stamped on the crown. With the leather vest and throat protector, he looked like an evil henchman in a James Bond movie—absurdly out of place on a placid April morning in the parking lot of the Mill Valley Whole Foods, where he hung around for half an hour, surrounded by Lululemon moms loading groceries into their Priuses. What’s more, he seemed nervous. Store workers watched with curiosity as he turned his engine on and off and rolled the bike around the lot, killing time or maybe having second thoughts. A little before 11 a.m., he made his move, rumbling a few hundred yards up nearby Evergreen Avenue to a quiet spot on the side of the road. There, he turned off the engine again and waited.

Read more on San Francisco Magazine