Green’s Dictionary of Slang

booster n.2

[boost v.2 (1)]

1. (US Und.) a shoplifter, esp. when on a large and professional scale.

[US]J. Sullivan ‘Criminal Sl.’ in Amer. Law Rev. LII (1918) 890: A shoplifter is called a ‘booster,’ or ‘hoister’ or ‘hyster.’.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 18: booster [...] A shoplifter; a thief who operates in merchandise stores in daytime. [...] ‘The Boost’ is the shoplifting profession.
[US]C. Sandburg ‘Cahoots’ in Smoke and Steel 45: Ain’t it fifty-fifty all down the line, / Petemen, dips, boosters, stick-ups and guns — what’s to hinder?
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 143: I had an experience with a dope-fiend booster (shop-lifter) in Philadelphia.
[US]A.J. Liebling ‘The Jollity Building’ in Just Enough Liebling (2004) 251: Paddy the Booster, who sells neckties he steals from haberdashers.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 180: I’ve got friends, real pals. Boosters I bailed out, free-lance hustlers I paid their rent for.
[US]E. Hunter Blackboard Jungle 197: You’re not a paper hanger, and you’re not a small fry pusher, and you’re not even a booster.
[US](con. 1940s) Malcolm X Autobiog. (1968) 173: This was the gang of organized boosters, who would deliver, to order [...] any kind of garment you desired.
[US]J. Allen Assault with a Deadly Weapon 193: I have also know a lot of broads that deal drugs [...] or they steal — they’re boosters.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 71: Benny the Booster, a hustler who sent shoddy merchandise that had never been ordered to names and addresses harvested out of the reverse directory.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 87: The street hustlers, pimps, confidence men, whores, gamblers and boosters who paid off the vice.
(con. 1930s) W. Fiennes Snow Geese (2002) 171: That’s where I met Cartier the Booster. He stole from department stores.
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebook] cap. 2: They were professional boosters [...] from hair spray to expensive mink coats, you could get it at the g-spot.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 27: I spent nuke-bomb nights at the Hollywood Ranch Market [...] I scanned for boosters.

2. a thief.

[UK]D. Ahearn Confessions of a Gunman 117: If she is not a good booster, the joint does not want her either.
[US] ‘The Open Book’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 115: Now there’s boosters from poor Oklahoma, / And there’s brokers from old Arkansaw.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 89: France was crawling with well-heeled Americans. And with them was crawling all sorts of jewel thieves, con men and boosters. Cheap crooks.
[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 303: He was a booster downtown a little time back. Could steal ten-twelve vines in one go ’round.
[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 96: She might decide that she wants to be a booster [thief].
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 82: There was ‘Stacks’ Edwards, a black credit-card booster.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 22: That’s the way things always ended for small-time boosters like them.
[US]D. Winslow Border [ebook] Nico might have been the best cell-phone booster Calle 18 ever had [...] The marks didn’t see him coming and they couldn’t catch him going.

In compounds

booster bloomers (n.) (also boosting bloomers, booster drawers)

purpose-designed voluminous underwear in which a female shoplifter hides stolen goods.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (2nd edn) 31: Booster bloomers (N) Bloomers worn by female shoplifters to conceal stolen goods.
[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 257: Booster bloomers and skirts [...] are baggy affairs with strong elastic at the waist and knees. [...].
E. de Rham How Could She Do That? 64: Sometimes, to test herself, she would leave the indispensable appurtenances of her trade at home — the oversized shopping bags and the ‘booster bloomers’.
[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson 144: Her boosting bloomers were packed away for later use.
R.W. Hall Three Plays [...] Three Essays 99: Big black booster bloomers. She coulda walked out with the whole ready-to-wear at Macy’s and nobody woulda known.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 29: Booster Drawers – underwear worn by shiplifters.
Beirne & Messerschmidt Criminology (3rd edn) 290: These devices include ‘booster bloomers,’ garments especially designed to hold stolen merchandise.
booster fold (n.)

(US Und.) a way of carrying stolen goods so as to render them invisible to store detectives; thus booster skirt, booster box.

[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 257: [...] The booster box [...] is wrapped and bound like a package, but one end, which looks tightly sealed, is really a spring lid which bends inwards, permitting the thief to shove something into the box.
[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson (1998) 93: With both suits tucked under my armpits in a booster fold, I scanned the moving traffic until I saw an empty cab.
sweet booster (n.)

(US Und.) a female shoplifter.

[US]Spokane Press (WA) 22 Sept. 7/3: A‘sweet booster’ is a successful female shop-lifter.

In phrases

snatch-and-grab booster (n.) (also boot-and-shoe booster)

(US Und.) an amateur shoplifter, rather than one who works with a professional team.

[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 49: Both the heel and the booster are professionals, different from amateur shoplifters, who are known as snatch-and-grab or boot-and-shoe boosters.