Subway Decoy Arrest a Triumphant One for NYPD Vet

Det. Dones helped arrest an iPhone thief at Times Square Saturday, probably his last before he retires Tuesday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NYPD
    Det. Nelson Dones

    Police announced an arrest Saturday resulting from its new strategy of sending decoy officers into the subway to crack down on thefts -- and it was a particularly triumphant one for a detective involved in the operation.

    The bust took place Saturday evening near the Times Square Shuttle platform, according to police. A decoy officer walked from the N/Q/R platform to the shuttle mezzanine with a backpack containing an Apple iPhone. The other officers watched her and followed behind closely.

    NYPD's Decoy Cops Target Subway Thieves

    [NY] NYPD's Decoy Cops Target Subway Thieves
    The NYPD is upping the stakes for subway thieves on the hunt for riders' high-tech gadgets. Called "Operation Decoy", the plan involves a team of specially trained officers that riders won't even know are there. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Monday, Nov 14, 2011)

    One of the backup officers, Det. Nelson Dones, saw a man approach the decoy officer from behind, take the iPhone from the backpack and put it into the front right pocket of his hooded sweatshirt, said police.

    That's when Dones and the other officers moved in to make the arrest.

    The suspect was identified as Fernando Francis, 26, of Brooklyn, who has a history of arrests for assault, criminal contempt and criminal possession of a weapon, said police.

    Suspects caught in decoy operations are often repeat offenders, police said.

    The arrest Saturday was probably the last one for Dones, a 31-year veteran of the New York Police Department, and a 2010 Theodore Roosevelt Award honoree for his continued service after overcoming severe medical hardship, said police.

    Dones was diagnosed in 2000 with stage IV lymphoma, which had spread from his lymph nodes to his bone marrow, according to NYPD. He was able to receive a transplant from his brother, and after extensive rehabilitation, returned to fully duty in 2005 as a field training officer for new members of the Transit Manhattan Task Force.

    "This is a fitting culmination of an outstanding career," said Commissioner Ray Kelly.

    Dones officially retires Tuesday.