Green’s Dictionary of Slang

snow-dropping n.

also snow-hunting
[snow n.1 (1a)]

(Aus./UK Und.) the stealing of washing, usu. women’s underwear, from where it is hanging out to dry.

[UK]W.A. Miles Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 62: The trampers are generally thieves, purloining whatever they can from the dwellings, or stealing linen from the hedges [...] designated by them snow-dropping.
[UK]Flash Mirror 6: Snow Hunting. — Going out after dark on the bye-roads, where there are many cottages inhabited by laundresses, &x., and robbing the lines of wet linen.
[UK]Manchester Courier 17 June 5/1: Judy Quin [...] charged by Police-Constable B7 with [...] what is termed by ‘the profession’, snow-dropping, in other words, with having stolen a dress from a clothes line.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 32: snow-dropping—stealing linen off a hedge.
Mt Alexander Mail (Vic.) 23 May 2/4: ‘Snow-dropping’ is a slang term used by the criminal class of Victoria to indicate the robbery of linen left in yards to dry.
[UK] ‘Six Years in the Prisons of England’ in Temple Bar Mag. Nov. 536: ‘What do you mean by ‘snow-dropping?’ I asked ‘O!’ said he, ‘that’s a poor game. It means lifting clothes off the bleaching line, or hedges. Needy mizzlers, mumpers, shallow-blokes, and flats may carry it on.’.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 9/2: Dick’s a broker, and has gone out snowdropping, and Chumpy is trying to fence a yack to a muff, or to play a skin game. Dick’s hard up, and has gone out to steal clean clothes (from clotheslines and hedges), and Chumpy is trying to sell a watch to a simple one, or to skin him at cards.
[UK]Leics. Chron. 24 May 12/3: Shiney [...] became a regular spinnakin dosser. Then he took up snow-dropping.
[UK]Shields Dly Gaz. 16 Jan. 4/2: [headline] ‘Snowdropping’ By A Willington Man.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[UK] ‘English Und. Sl.’ in Variety 8 Apr. n.p.: Snow hunting—Taking washing from line.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xl 4/4: snow droppings: Stealing from clothes lines.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 36: snowdropping was stealing linen from a hedge or wherever it had been left to dry, a term that is still with us to describe a man who steals women’s underwear from clothes lines.