Two weeks ago, I got a call from the NYPD that a known thief in the area was apprehended walking out of my apartment building with two packages addressed to me. I told them I did not know this person, nor did I give him permission to enter our building and take our packages.
I can only imagine how many other packages he has stolen until he was finally caught. I testified before a grand jury, and he was found guilty. I then left the next day for a vacation abroad.
When I came back, I found that a NY Times reporter had left a voicemail on my cellphone and my wife’s cellphone, an @ reply on Twitter, a LinkedIn message, emails in my personal and work account, as well as an @ mention on one of my Instagram photos. Persistant eh? I ended up talking with him twice, including meeting him for photos, and you can read the article here.
Honestly, I am pretty disappointed with the article. Yes, it was only fruitcake, but this man has committed over 40 misdemeanors (not 30) over the last 10 years, including this exact crime during the recent holiday season. I appreciate Mr Wilson’s need to write for an audience and make light of the fact that what was in one of our packages was only fruitcake, but I assure you that I have taken these recents thefts seriously. I have spoken with building management and a security system has been installed.
Mostly though I am frustrated by how rarely people press charges. I didn’t have to testify before the grand jury, I could have just let him off, like half of the solved crimes in Park Slope—they are simply dismissed. I will say it again: over half of the victims of crimes that are solved in Park Slope do not press charges. And that is just the crimes that are solved, i.e. the perpetrator is caught. Think of all the crimes that are not solved.
I had a lot of time during the proceedings at the court house to talk with the arresting officer and a few of his fellow policemen. Every single day they track a thief down, whether it be for stealing a computer, jewelry or an iPhone/iPad (so common in NYC it has its own name among thieves: “Apple Picking”). “About half” of the time, they deliver back the stolen items, the victim decides not the press charges, and the criminal is released. Insane. I asked him the officer why, and he said the most common response was “I’m too busy”.
For instance, the day before our hearing, a police officer sees a young man taking a woman’s phone from her stroller while she was attending to her baby. He chased him through Prospect Park, scratches from the branches still evident the next day, and caught the guy. He handcuffed him and brought the phone back to the mother, who decided she didn’t want to press charges.
I understand that people are busy, want to give someone a second chance, and the criminal system has its issues, but I do not think that this is right and that is why I agreed to speak with Mr. Wilson from the Times, in the hopes that he would bring this situation to the attention of others. Instead we got a cute story about my mom’s fruitcake, which, as much as I love it, was not what I was hoping for.