Green’s Dictionary of Slang

boost v.2

[SE boost, to lift, to push, to hoist]

1. (US Und.) to steal, esp. to shoplift.

[US]Wash. Times (DC) 14 Sept. 10/3: Boost— To shoplift.
[US]Spokane Press (WA) 22 Sept. 1/8: Was out with a mob of moll buzzers the other night and boosted a few skins.
[US]J. Lait ‘Canada Kid’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 167: I boosts ’em while you was tellin’ how square I was.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 251: I followed them to Chicago, always refusing to boost.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 336: Write out a check for five grand out of your petty cash before I boost it.
[US]Billie Holiday Lady Sings the Blues (1975) 146: Man, that bitch had boosted everything I had looked at during the whole shopping store. And all of it was stashed in a big pair of bloomers.
[US]Larner & Tefferteller Addict in the Street (1966) 61: I used to go boosting also. This was stealing meats out of supermarkets.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 12: Then there was boostin’ in department stores.
[US]S. King Different Seasons (1995) 453: I wish we never boosted that car!
[US]Rebennack & Rummel Under A Hoodoo Moon 126: I stored boosted clothes that these Mexican girls used to bring me.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 49: She had boosted it [i.e. a scarf] from Lord and Taylor’s.
[US]N. Green Angel of Montague Street (2004) 246: He stopped and bought a screwdriver [...] used it to boost a delivery truck.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 154: Louis [...] spent the next six months boosting cars.
[US]J. Stahl Bad Sex on Speed 40: Your mother said she got them [i.e. a child’s underwear] at a yard sale but yuo knew she boosted them from Gimbels, because she gave them to you out of her ‘shopping coat’ which had a special ‘party pocket’ in back.
[US]S. King Finders Keepers (2016) 122: He had no memory of making his way to Sugar Heights in the boosted car.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 287: I boosted three bug-and-tap boxes.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 346: He’ll think the police have boosted the drugs... whisked them away.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 33: He made nice side-money chauffering the boosting girls around.

In phrases

on the boost (US Und.)

1. working as a pickpocket.

[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 24: There are hundreds of troupes entirely female on the boost.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 139: You’re a hook. You’re a flat-thief. You’re a wagon-bouncer [...] You’re on the boost.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 32/1: Boost, on the. [...] 2. Engaged in or by means of pocket-picking.

2. working as a shoplifter.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 137: On the Boost. – Shoplifting.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 32/1: Boost, on the. 1. Engaged in or by means of shoplifting.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 810: on the boost – Shoplifting.