By Ronnie Cohen
SAN RAFAEL, California (Reuters) - Friends of a teenager accused of stealing a $200,000 sports car in a spectacular escapade last year tried but failed on Friday to bust him out of a juvenile detention facility on his birthday, investigators said on Friday.
Max Wade turned 18 on Friday while being held in a juvenile hall in San Rafael on charges he stole a celebrity chef's Lamborghini in a Hollywood-like acrobatic heist. He also faces a possible life sentence for allegedly shooting into a truck carrying a girl who had spurned his romantic overtures.
Following the botched attempt to free him, Wade was transferred to a county jail, as scheduled, because he had reached the legal age for adult incarceration.
The breakout effort was detected around 4:35 a.m. local time on Friday, when a juvenile hall counselor saw a sledgehammer striking the window of Wade's cell, said Michael Daly, who runs the facility.
The counselor immediately removed the birthday boy, whose bail is set at $2 million. But whoever was trying to set him free had vanished before law enforcement arrived on the scene.
A search turned up a backpack containing a change of clothes, a sledgehammer and a bolt cutter, which authorities believe was used to slice through two perimeter fences.
Police said they linked Wade after the fact to a high-profile car theft in March 2011 in which a man rappelled from the roof of a San Francisco auto dealership into the showroom and roared off in a canary-yellow Lamborghini Spyder Gallardo.
Video cameras captured the convertible, owned by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, days later crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
The theft went unsolved for more than a year, until detectives investigating an unrelated drive-by shooting north of San Francisco unexpectedly discovered the stolen car parked in a storage locker along with the motorcycle used in the shooting.
Police said they staked out the storage locker and arrested Wade when he turned up to claim his belongings.
No one was injured in the April shooting, for which he is charged with two counts of attempted murder.
Authorities had no suspects in Friday's breakout attempt. But in June, two young men posted an online video of themselves dancing in front of a yellow Lamborghini and rapping the lyrics to a song called "Free Max Wade."
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Todd Eastham)