A courageous detective who went back to work after beating stage-four cancer celebrated his last day on the job yesterday by helping to collar a career criminal.
Decorated NYPD Officer Nelson Dones, 57, who has been with the department for 31 years, aided in the bust of perp Fernando Francis, 26, during a decoy operation in the Times Square subway station at 6:05 p.m., authorities said today.
Francis had allegedly approached a plainclothes cop who had an iPhone in her backpack pouch, snatched the smartphone and then placed it into his sweatshirt pocket near the Times Square shuttle.
Dones and five other cops — all part of the operation — quickly grabbed Francis, whose prior arrests include criminal possession of a weapon and assault.
Authorities charged him with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
“I couldn’t wait to be a cop,’’ said Dones, recalling how he felt when he entered the Police Academy. Now, “I ended with an arrest — it was like icing on the cake.”
Doctors had diagnosed Dones with lymphoma in 2001. When he didn’t respond to chemotherapy, he received a life-saving bone-marrow transplant from his brother.
The long-serving detective was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Award for coming back to the Finest after surviving the late-stage cancer.
He said he returned to his dangerous work because “I wanted to prove that I can still do the job after battling cancer.
“One thing I’ve always loved is policing,” admitted Dones, who added that his health is good and that his official last day of work is Tuesday.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said of the bust, "This is a fitting culmination of an outstanding career."