Green’s Dictionary of Slang

weed v.2

1. (UK Und.) to steal small amounts, e.g from a warehouse, so as not to alert the victim.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 278: weed: Experienced thieves sometimes think it good judgment to weed a place, in order that it may be good again, perhaps for a considerable length of time, as in the instance of a warehouse or other depôt for goods, to which they may possess the means of access by means of a false key; in this case, by taking too great a swag, at first, the proprietors would discover the deficiency, and take measures to prevent future depredation. [Ibid.] weed: to pilfer or purloin a small portion from a large quantity of any thing; often done by young or timid depredators, in the hope of escaping detection, as, an apprentice or shopman will weed his master’s lob, that is, take small sums out of the till when opportunity offers, which sort of peculation may be carried on with impunity for a length of time.
Mt Alexander Mail (Vic.) 13 May 2/6: It was at first thought that the stores had been entered by burglars, but now it is the opinion of those who have investigated the matter that the place has been ‘weeded.’ - To enlighten our readers [...] the robbery has been done by degrees.

2. (orig. UK Und.) to steal part rather than all of a potential booty; thus weeding n. and adj.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: To Weed. To take a part. The kiddey weeded the swell’s screens; the youth took some of the gentleman’s bank notes.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK]Satirist (London) 6 May 152/1: Patten [...] who with Beard, was the dealer at this game; and they, between them, contrived to weed the bank daily so clean of its winnings, that Bennett found it necessary to withdraw his bank.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 31/1: No wonder they can buy horses and cabs, and set up ‘lush drums’ [...] when they ‘weed’ half of every ‘poke’ they get away with. [Ibid.] 42/2: Charley interfered too much in the business, for when his ‘chum’ was absent he always took the opportunity of ‘weeding’ the till. [Ibid.] 106/2: Why, sirs, in my opinion, the meanest crawling thing on earth is a ‘weeding’ stall.
[US]A. Pinkerton Thirty Years a Detective 169: ‘Weeding’ consists in extracting all the large bills from the wallet, and substituting small ones [...] so that the bulk will be about the same.
[US]S. Bailey Ups and Downs of a Crook’s Life 78: You have been through it, and ‘weeded’ it since you ‘pinched’ it.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 29 Sept. 7/3: Awl they gets is nixey weedin’, / Shice, or very little more; / P’rhaps they does it for the glory— ? / As it can't be for the score.
[UK]O.C. Malvery Soul Market 39: ‘You can do the nobbing,’ he continued, and then put a small box into my hand. [...] ‘Slip round, my girl, and “nob” ’em, and mind yer bring it all to light, and no weeding, no poling, mind yer.’.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 87: weed [...] Current chiefly amongst pickpockets [...] To extract any fraction from a roll of bills; to withdraw a partial sum from the principal; to take the essential and leave the nonessential.
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 466: weed a dump, To rob a store by taking so little at a time that the owner shall not become aware of the fact that he is nightly being robbed.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 334: weeding the lob : Thefts from a till by an employee.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 235/1: [...] 1. To single out as a prospective victim of theft. 2. To remove a sum of money from so large a package of bills that the loss will not be noticed immediately; to withdraw sums stealthily, as from a cash drawer or register. 3. To steal piecemeal.

3. to take, to steal; thus weeding n.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 June 3/4: Padbury [...]slipped round the bar, pulled out the drawer, and began weeding sundry little piles of silver which the worthy host had just placed there.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 28/2: He had no ‘dummy’ on him then, it having been ‘weeded’ and ‘slung’ in the ‘dunnakin’ immediately after it was got.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 9: Weeding a Greeny - Working a countryman for his watch and money.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 93: Weeding, a thief stealing from the‘swag,’ so as not to be suspected by his‘pals’.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 183: Won’t ’e sing a bleed’n’ ’ymn w’en ’e finds ’is stuff weeded!
[US]S.F. Chronicle 6 Mar. 3: They refer to breaking open cases in freight cars as ‘weeding the freight.’.
[US]Wash. Post 11 Nov. Miscellany 3/4: Hard indeed it is to abstract a ‘poke’ [...] and ‘weed’ it in the security of some nearby haven.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 67: Many yeggs carry as much as a quart of the stuff [nitroglycerin] ‘on the hip,’ having boiled it up after ‘weeding’ it from a quarry or shop.
[US](con. 1910s) D. Mackenzie Hell’s Kitchen 160: A good deal of ‘weeding’ (stealing of small articles) is practised by the inhabitants of this district.
[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 12: Weed: Thieving.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 235/1: Weed [...] 4. To remove valuables, as from a wallet, leaving other contents untouched. [...] 235/2: Weeding. 1. Petty thievery, as differentiated from organized racketeering.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 23: There was an additional fee for catching anybody weeding out the casino take.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Weeding the kick. Opportunistically to take the spoils from someone else’s crime.

4. to separate.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Gentlemen, the King!’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 175: Count Saro whips out a bundle of scratch, and weeds off twenty-five large coarse notes.

In phrases

weed a/the leather (v.)

to pickpocket a wallet and strip it of its contents.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 26 Oct. n.p.: Ned had, of course, great opportunities to ‘weed’ a ‘leather’ and thus steal from the thieves themselves.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 61: It’s God’s truth, my hands actually got tired weedin’ the leathers I pulled up.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 19 Oct. 5/1: Mr Bates’ leather sticks out of his inside kick and Jimmy thinks it’s a shame. He cops and lams a couple of blocks. He’s weeding it when he sees a grab all across the street leaning on a mush with a steamer in his face.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 302: Dip — a pickpocket After lifting a pocketbook a ‘dip’ quickly ‘weeds the leather,’ that is goes through it hurriedly.
[US]C. Rawson Headless Lady (1987) 46: Someone weeded those leathers and ditched them behind the kid-show top.
weed the peter (v.) [peter n.3 (2)]

(Aus. und.) of an employee, to steal small amounts from the till.

[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 26 Feb. 3/3: Tlckner had been ‘weeding the Peter’ on ‘Hoppy’ and it was whispered that Mr. Gardner was so upset at his dishonesty that he shot him.
weed the swag (v.) [swag n.1 (3)]

(UK Und.) to embezzle part of the booty before dividing what remains with one’s gang.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 278: To weed the swag is to embezzle part of the booty, unknown to your palls, before a division takes place, a temptation against which very few of the family are proof if they can find an opportunity. A flash-cove, on discovering a deficiency in his purse or property, which he cannot account for, will declare that he, (or it, naming the article,) has been weeded to the ruffian.