13-time felon worked as pickpocket on Red Line, prosecutors say

Albert Fields (inset) | CPD

A 13-time convicted felon (and convicted murderer) worked as part of a two-man pickpocket team on the Red Line, prosecutors said Thursday. And he can blame crisp CTA surveillance camera footage and his unique phone for his latest arrest.

Around 4 p.m. on September 25, two pickpockets targeted a man on the Roosevelt Red Line platform. As the train doors opened, one man walked in front of the victim and rubbed a lit cigarette on the victim’s pants leg, prosecutors said. While the first offender helped the victim wipe ashes and soot off his pants, the second man — identified by prosecutors as 64-year-old Albert Fields — walked up behind the victim and took his wallet from his pocket.

The victim continued onto the southbound train while the pickpockets stayed on the platform. Prosecutors said the victim soon realized his wallet was gone, and he filed a police report at the 1st District police station a short time later.

Meanwhile, Fields and his accomplice went to the 47th Street Green Line station and used the victim’s credit card to purchase several weekend Ventra passes for $220, according to the state’s allegations.

Detectives who reviewed CTA surveillance video found clear images of Fields’ face as well as his clothing and a cellphone that has a red band around it, prosecutors said. One of the investigators even recognized Fields from previous CTA theft cases.

Investigators released a transit bulletin featuring images of the pickpockets. When police caught up with Fields on Tuesday, he was wearing the same hat and jacket as the second pickpocket. According to prosecutors, he also had a phone with the distinctive red band that cops saw in CTA video.

Fields has a pending identity theft and theft case that “mirror the facts” of the Roosevelt CTA incident, prosecutors said. He also has 13 felony convictions, most of which are for theft. And he received a 30-year sentence for murder in 1983.

Judge Susana Ortiz said Fields could go home on his own recognizance with electronic monitoring.

“Mr. Fields needs to be in the house 24/7 right now,” Ortiz said.

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