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The naked truth: Fix the loophole in Times Square’s solicitation rules that allows costumed — and uncostumed — hustlers to prey on tourists


The police arrest of a Times Square topless woman charged with ripping off an autistic man by keeping his cell phone until he forked over $100 is another urgent reason, like the earlier groping of a 14-year-old girl, to end the free-for-all for the tourist-preying hustlers, be they barely clothed or costumed.

When the two City Councilmen representing Times Square authored legislation in 2016 regulating the hustlers, the legislative intent was to contain to a few clearly demarcated zones all aspects of the commercial activity in the plaza.

Corey Johnson and Dan Garodnick’s goal then — which they reiterate today — was to limit solicitation of pictures for cash, negotiation on the price, posing and payment to the clearly marked rectangles on the ground.

The problem is that the police department wrongly interprets the law to mean that only the payment must be inside the box. That leaves Spider-Men and SpongeBobs and desnudas and the rest to have their run of the plazas.

Johnson, now Council speaker, says that he wants a new bill to erase any ambiguity. Garodnick’s successor, Keith Powers, concurs entirely.

The Council is working up a bill. Get it printed and introduced pronto. If the mayor’s lawyers have qualms, let’s hear them in public. The victimization of tourists at the center of the city by con artists must stop.