Michael Lawrence said Friday he took 13 professional racing bikes two days before the inaugural Exergy Bike Tour was supposed to begin.
Lawrence, 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of grand theft Friday in connection with the case. Ada County prosecutors will drop 12 other felony counts of grand theft and one count of burglary in exchange for the guilty plea.
Lawrence, who is accused of stealing as many as 50 bikes in the Boise area since spring and trying to sell them on websites like Craigslist, will help local authorities recover those bikes, according to court testimony.
Fourth District Judge Timothy Hansen plans to sentence Lawrence on Oct. 26.
Each charge of grand theft is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. The plea agreement does not include a deal on the length of sentence, but prosecutors did say Friday if Lawrence helps people recover the bikes he stole, they will consider recommending a retained jurisdiction program — commonly know as a “rider” — instead of fixed prison time.
A rider is an Idaho Department of Correction program that can last up to one year. When that is over, it would then be up to Hansen to figure out if Lawrence should go to prison or be placed on probation.
What is still a mystery is how Lawrence was able to steal 13 bikes, belonging to the California-based Tibco-To The Top racing team, from a locked trailer outside a Vista Boulevard hotel and get them to the Boise State campus in the early morning hours of May 23 without anyone seeing. It is unclear whether he had help from anyone else.
Prosecutors say those are two of many questions they hope to get answers for now that Lawrence has agreed to cooperate with law enforcement.
The Tibco team’s bikes, worth more than $100,000, were found later that morning locked together at different places on campus.
Police were able to identify Lawrence as a suspect when they found his fingerprints on the stolen Tibco bikes and later found a series of color-coded keys in his car that matched the color-coded locks found on the stolen bikes, according to court documents.
The theft of the Tibco bikes threatened to mar the first-ever Exergy Tour, a $100,000 women’s professional cycling race that took place over five days in southwestern Idaho.
The bikes, which were not damaged, were found in time for the team to use them in the race.
Officers suspect Lawrence dumped the Tibco bikes on campus to store them — essentially hiding them in plain sight among lots of other bikes — intending to move them later, former Boise police Sgt. Randy Buzzini said.
Lawrence never got the chance. Police say publicity caused Lawrence to pull back from bike thefts and concentrate on other burglaries.
Police were just about to arrest Lawrence for the Tibco bike thefts when he got caught the night of June 21 trying to steal $800 worth of car tires from the Les Schwab store at 1805 S. Cole Road, police said.
By then, police had identified Lawrence as a suspect in as many as 50 different bike thefts — saying he used tools to break through locks and doors to steal expensive bikes from businesses, homes and bike racks across town.
Lawrence has an eye for expensive bikes, police say. They say they have evidence Lawrence stole five bikes worth more than $10,000 from businesses on Vista Avenue in early June. Police found two of those bikes, each worth about $3,500, in June locked together near Saint Luke’s Boise Medical Center.
When police searched Lawrence’s home in June, they found computers and TVs reported stolen from area businesses, according to reports.
There is no mention in police reports of officers finding any bikes at his house.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Orr