sfpd_squad.jpgA pickpocket who has been arrested about 50 times in the last three decades is headed back to jail for allegedly stealing a wallet from a Muni rider last month, a San Francisco police spokesman said.

Thomas David Wilson, 49, has been sentenced to one year in state prison for the theft, which occurred on the 30 Stockton Muni line on March 1, spokesman Samson Chan said.

A significant number of Wilson’s arrests over the past 30 years have been for picking pockets on Muni. He has been sent to jail numerous times but always reverts to stealing after he is released, police said.

On March 1, a retired investigator from the district attorney’s office was riding Muni as a volunteer assisting police with pickpocket abatement.

She saw Wilson move to the back of the bus and steal a man’s wallet but was unable to stop the theft, police said. She recognized Wilson from past encounters and followed him off the bus, but he escaped.

State parole agents then issued a photo of Wilson to Central Station officers. San Francisco police used Muni video footage and arrested him at the department’s Fugitive Recover Enforcement Team office on March 2.

Once he is released from jail, Wilson will be on parole until August 2012. He will not be allowed on Muni lines he has targeted, police said.

Police encourage Muni riders to be cognizant of their surroundings, especially when the vehicles are crowded. Passengers should keep their belongings secure and be wary of anyone standing too close or jostling others.

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