NYPD police officers are powerless against an alleged serial pickpocket who preys on visitors in Times Square. According to the New York Post, Dedrick Williams, 53, has been arrested 12 times since March, with more than 40 arrests dating back to 1984. However, he continues to be freed without posting bail. One frustrated officer said, “He is a prolific pickpocket preying on tourists and working people in Times Square for over 30 years. There’s no consequence, so he keeps doing it.”
Another cop explained that “He is definitely targeting the area and picking on the most innocent people — tourists who it is hard to believe are naive to the amount of crime in this city. Robberies are through the roof.”
Court documents show that Williams was most recently detained on August 19 and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and weapons possession for allegedly unzipping the pocketbook of an unaware transit user while attempting to grab her wallet. In this case, he was also freed without posting bond.
In early August, the NYPD celebrated taking him off the streets on Twitter after his 11th arrest of the year, only to watch him walk free again. While Manhattan prosecutors requested a $30,000 bond, the court decided that Williams be released on supervised release. In that case, Williams was accused of committing several heists, including one on July 18, when he is believed to have taken a woman’s wallet from her backpack while on the 6 train. He also reportedly snatched another woman’s pocketbook in Times Square one day later.
Another officer noted, “Something has to be done to hold criminals like this in jail. It is a warped judicial where the system cares more about the criminals than the victims.” Former NYPD Sgt. Joseph Giacalone and Criminal Justice professor at John Jay College said Williams belongs in prison. He stated, “He’s got to be put in jail. He’s got to not be released on bail and he’s got to go to Rikers Island and sit there and wait for these cases to come up,” adding that “Apparently he hasn’t learned his lesson.”
Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, said that getting tough on crime will be critical to the popular tourist destination as the city attempts to bounce back from COVID restrictions. He explained, “With law enforcement and district attorneys lacking the basic tools to ensure safety, we will continue to see these incidents happen, and they will hurt our city and our city’s recovery.”