Green’s Dictionary of Slang

crib n.1

[16C SE crib, a small house or narrow room; the term evolved into 19C cant, and has survived in 20C+ US black use]

1. (UK Und.; post-WWII chiefly US black) a dwelling house, an apartment.

[UK]Shakespeare Henry IV Pt 2 III i: Why, rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 14: I’ll rummage all your cribs of whores.
[US]A.N. Royall Letters from Alabama 22 Dec. 109: There is my crib, and there is my smoke house; use them as your own.
[UK]J. Burrowes Life in St George’s Fields 20: Two men and a woman [...] hailed them to enquire if they were going to the crib.
[Aus]Sydney Gaz. 19 July 3/2: Having proceeded to a neighbouring public-house to regale herself with a strong potation of an elevating tendency, she retired to her ‘crib’ at the dead hour of midnight.
[UK]‘Paul Pry’ Oddities of London Life 11: I’ll go into this here good gemman’s crib and ax him for a ‘box’.
[UK] ‘Joe Buggins’ in Gentleman’s Spicey Songster 37: But if you call at my crib tomorrow, my wife is at your service quite.
[UK]Fast Man 14:1 n.p.: ‘What a cold, miserable crib,’ said Sam, as soon as he entered the room, ‘"why it's enough to give a fellow the horrors’.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: You’ve the tools ready to jump that crib in St. Nicholas Lane?
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 110: I’ll have a spell in the day time when I’ve got the crib to myself.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 13 Oct. 6/6: You’ll take me to your crib, won’t you? There was no help for it.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 256: We know your mob’s got some crib up in the mountains that no one knows about.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 415: A sportin’, flashy sort ’er gent [...] ’ad a snug little crib, ’bout four mile out’er town.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 180: Er man learns er bit ’nout women in er crib like this.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Benno and his Old ’Uns’ in Roderick (1972) 804: The Old ’Uns’ crib never seems to be troubled with heat or dust on the hottest and dustiest days.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Crusaders’ in Chisholm (1951) 83: But we sail past the Chow without a stop, / Straight for the little crib up near the top.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Nine Tailors (1984) 244: He wrote me a letter [...] Sent it to the old crib, and it was forwarded on.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 86: It was a crazy crib costing sixty-five a month.
[US]J.A. Williams Night Song (1962) 180: You’d better run over to my crib and stay there till I come.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 167: I’ll stop by the crib today.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 40: You be knowin’ them, but you never invite them over the crib.
[US]R. Shell Iced 126: They’d stop by my crib, evenings after work.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Hollywood Fuck Pad’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 222: I want a Bel Air crib owned by some hebe in the movie biz.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 79: It was a night that started at that Jamaican joint and ended at his crib.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 17 May [Internet] Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have purchased a new crib.
[UK]V. McDermid Out of Bounds (2017) 320: ‘I don’t care if you’ve got smuggled fags or dodgy vodka in your crib’.

2. (UK Und.) a thieves’ hideout.

[UK]J. Mackcoull Abuses of Justice 30: Damn your eyes, you bloody thief [...] I will frisk you and your crib.
‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries & Miseries of NY 12: ‘I’m agoin’ to the crib; see if you can't pick up some cove as wants to see the elephant’.
[US]G. Thompson Anna Mowbray 9: John Carr (the cripple) [...] requested to be conveyed to Boy Jack’s crib, (the name of a thieves’ den,) where he soon drank himself insensible.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 226: Keeping a cove hanging about a crib as has been blow’d on.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 245: Well, we started next day, after shutting up the crib where we hung out.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 12 Feb. 7/6: The most notorious of these ‘cribs’ are in Flower and Dean Street, Southwark, and in Baldwin’s Gardens, Shoreditch.
[UK]D. Stewart Shadows of the Night in Illus. Police News 15 June 12/3: ‘Any of the family (thieves) at the old crib?’.

3. a bed.

[UK]W. Scott Rob Roy (1883) 315: Cribs there were of different dimensions beside the walls, formed, some of fractured boards, some of shattered wicker-work or plaited boughs, in which slumbered the family of the house.
[UK] ‘Pickpocket’s Chaunt’ (translation of ‘En roulant de vergne en vergne’) in Vidocq 1829) IV 260: You may have a crib to stow in [...] Welcome, my pal, as the flowers of May.
[UK] ‘Poll Of Drury’ in Lummy Chaunter 60: The old bawd soon gave her consent, / And to a crib we quickly went.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) II 375/2: I have a crib in a corner of mother’s room.
[US]S. Smith ‘Buck Nix’ [comic strip] Buck [...] prepared to tuck himself in his little crib.
[Aus]F. Garrett diary 18 May [Internet] Chalmers and I have been lucky enough to secure a very decent crib.
[US] in ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 10: crib – Bed.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 45: The thinner bird often made it up to you in the crib.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 99: The guy in the next crib, a loud teeth gnasher, woke me up.
[US]Source Aug. 68: Wait for the video to come out on this one, get a shorty, and watch it at the crib.

4. a burial ground.

[UK] in J.B. Bailey Diary of a Resurrectionist (1896) 139: At night went out and got 3, Jack & me Hospital Crib,* Benjn, Danl & Bill to Harpers. [*Slang for burial-ground].

5. a public house.

[UK]London Eve. Standard 6 Sept. 1/2: A gang of thieves assemble to plunder the struggling crowd. As soon as the press is over, they return to their ‘smoking crib,’ [...] and enjoy themselves.
[UK] ‘A Fancy Elegy on the death of Jack Randall’ in C. Hindley James Catnach (1878) 178: The Hole-in-the-Wall was once his stall, / His crib the Fancy name it.
[UK]Era (London) 18 Oct. 5/4: The Deaf-un and me was having a drain at the Magpie and Stump in Newgate-street. Your worship knows the crib, p’rhaps.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 20 Mar. 2/6: The locality of the aforesaid crib presented the usual scene of bustle and excitement [...] and the roudy [sic] landlord was as busy as we could wish.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd series) 391: There’s a crib here where they sell capital ale.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 17 July 3/2: I used to refresh his memory by ‘chi-hoicking’ him whenever he passed my crib.

6. a small, cheap brothel or ‘low’ saloon; also attrib.; thus crib-girl, a prostitute.

[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 322: There was no doubt they voud stand a drap of summat to make them all cumfurable, and likewise prove good customers of the crib.
[UK] ‘Lamentation Of The Bawds Of London’ in Cuckold’s Nest 16: No cribs like ‘the key’ are now to be seen, sirs, / Where a swell took his mot, and to snooze there, I ween, sirs.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 25 Mar. 2/1: His sister, Mother Samuels, is well known to have more girls lag’d out of her crib than any baud in Shoemaker’s Row.
[US]Subterranean 13 Sept. 3/1: [A drunkard] had been propelling to such an extent that he was incapable of leaving the crib where he got pulverized.
[US]N.Y. Daily Trib. 18 Sept. 5/6: God help any man who attempts to enter the above ‘crib’ alone, to deposit his ballot without their sanction.
[US]J.D. McCabe Secrets of the Great City 312: This saloon is one of the most notorious assignation houses in New York. [...] So, let us leave the murky atmosphere of the ‘crib,’ and once more breathe the pure air of heaven.
[US]Galaxy (N.Y.) Mar. 196: One of them went to the house with the story of a conversation he had overheard in a ‘crib,’ during which ‘Stutter Jack,’ ‘Glimmer George,’ and sundry others with similar improbable names, had arranged the preliminaries for ‘cracking’ the house on a night then some time in the future.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 25 Jan. 5/2: Last week a crib in Sussex-street was raided, and some startling discoveries made. The place was occupied by Chinese as a sort of lodging-house, and [...] there was very little to show its real character.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 53: CRIB: [...] A brothel or place of prostitution or assignation: any house used for immoral purposes.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 206: You in nothing for the job but four or five bottles of vinegar [...] because [they] [...] won’t stay to turn out the crib.
[US]J. Washburn Und. Sewer 654: The girls who occupy the crib are always under the influence of a lover, who fleeces them of all money above their bare living expenses.
[US] in G. Legman Rationale of the Dirty Joke (1972) I 131: The son, who has been looking in the door of a whore-house crib.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 163: I’ll make the cribs myself. I’m dynamite with them old brums in the cribs.
[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 21: I ran at first a fine twenty-dollar luxury house with clean pretty whores. Prices went down from there till you got to the fifteen-cent, two-bit nigrah cribs.
[US]J.H. O’Hara Pal Joey 22: I am singing for coffee and cakes at a crib on Cottage Grove Ave.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 178: The girls in the crib doors plucked at their blouses to peel them off their breasts.
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words.
[US]S. King It (1987) 868: One old campaigner [...] told me of taking a slat-thin prostitute in a crib on Baker Street.
[US]Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore II 716: Low-level prostitutes in working-class ‘cribs’ [...] may service sexually as many as fifty men in one working day.
[US](con. late 19C) C. Jeffords Shady Ladies of the Old West [Internet] The euphemisms for prostitution were many [...] ‘crib/parlor-house girls’, ‘Cyprians’, ‘nymphs of the pave’ [etc.].
[US]J. Ellroy Hilliker Curse 15: I tailed her to a crib on Arizona.

7. a shop.

[UK]Reading Mercury 6 Apr. 4/5: Having renewed the lease of my little crib, and at great expense enlarged my shop.
[UK]Flash Mirror 18: R. Simpkins [...] has just open’d a cribb in the Hosiery game.
[UK] advert in ‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue (1857) 45: Having some ready in his kick – [he] grabbed the chance – stepped home with the swag – and is now safely landed at his crib [i.e. shop].

8. the vagina.

[UK]‘A Game at All Fours’ in Convivialist in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 21: But when at night, if I play with my Rib, / If she has six in her hand, she wants nine in her crib .

9. (UK/US Und.) a prison cell.

[UK]Bell’s Life in London 5 May 2/1: And then my prey at once I drag, / To Barrett’s crib, in Whitecross-street.
[UK]York Herald 3 May 4/3: Damn my eyes (said Taylor) if I leave this blasted crib [...] You are governor, but I’ll fix you.
[US]Broadway Belle (N.Y.) 29 Oct. 1/3–4: The crib is ruled by mokes and Micks. My health is rummy.
[UK]New Boys’ World 29 Dec. 100: I’d get out of a crib like this with my eyes shut.
[US]Clarence ‘Pine Top’ Smith ‘Big Boy, They Can’t Do That’ [lyrics] Now, they entered me into that crib of misery, / Down in their old county jail.
[US]H. Whittington Forgive Me, Killer (2000) 3: He led me into this crib. It was completely bare except for two chairs.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 202: crib, n. – a cell.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 49: Crib An inmate’s cell or living area.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 205: I takes my showers, keeps myself clean . . . I ain’t be havin’ no nasty-ass crib neither.

10. (Aus.) an outback lodging house.

[Aus][A. Harris] (con. 1820s) Settlers & Convicts 43: Alone in the middle of the wilderness, one of these little ‘cribs’ necessarily becomes the nightly rendezvous of numbers of travellers.

11. a berth, a situation, a job, e.g. a snug crib, a safe place.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 304: Comfor’ble crib it is; eighteen-pence a week and all my wittles.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Jubilee’ in Punch 25 June 305/1: Wot with dynimite, Charlie, and duffers like Hyndman, Kropotkin & Co. / [...] / kings’ cribs are not wuth ’arf a blow.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Derby Day’ in Punch 1 June 258/1: The young ’un whose crib I succeeded to skinned the old bloke’s petty cash.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘An Ungrateful “Missis”’ Sporting Times 25 Aug. 1/4: I’ve been out of a crib / For a matter of six years or so; / In fact, since we’ve been married, I’m telling no fib, / I’ve been out of work, that’s why the show / Has been run by the missis with her bit of brass.
[UK]H.G. Wells Kipps (1952) 91: There would be paper and stamps needed in some abundance for answering advertisements [...] when he went ‘crib hunting’.

12. (UK/US Und.) a casino.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 96/1: We ‘cut’ from there and went over to the Nick. This was the best patronised ‘crib’ around the neighborhood [...] On entering the room we saw about fifty players there, engaged in rouge et noir, throwing hazards and vingtun.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 57: Crib. – [...] A gambling dive.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 796: crib – A gambling dive.

13. a cheap theatre.

[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 303: There was a ‘gaff’ near Whitechapel turnpike [...] ‘I’ll have a turn at the old crib,’ I suddenly resolved.

14. a place that is a target for a break-in or robbery.

[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Sept. 6/5: In the guise of a mushroom-faker he had been out to take stock of a likely crib.
[UK]Dundee Courier 13 Nov. 5/6: The fancy warehouse [...] also came in for a share of the cracksmen’s attention, but there they could not work the oracle to their satisfaction, and the crib was drawn blank.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Amateur Cracksman (1992) 25: The Bank of England, for example, is the ideal crib.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 194: Prospecting ‘cribs’ for male cracksmen.

15. the room in a brothel where a prostitute services her clients.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 52/2: Crib. [...] 2. A house of prostitution; one of a row of shuttered or curtained booths in brazenly open prostitution districts.
[US]A.S. Fleischman Look behind You, Lady (2006) 66: The girls can rent cribs from a joint [...] by the hour, week, or year.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 105: It was a trick bar, with the cribs out in back.

16. (Aus./US) a cheap café or restaurant.

[US]C. Connors Bowery Life [ebook] Well, wot d'yer t'ink uv dat. A feedin’ crib widout no spuds.
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 143: Sid [...] watched Nettie from one of the dark little cribs in which Panzacchi’s dubious oysters were eaten.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 206: De Ridder was shit city [...] Chicken-fried-steak joints and rib cribs.

17. (Aus.) a non-specified place.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 15 June 9/4: Leicester Square, dear Mister Norton, / Are a giddy sorter crib.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 15 July 3/2: Now Australia, Mr Norton, / Ain’t a crib what’s cold, dear Sir.

18. (US Und.) a safe.

[US]H. Simon ‘Prison Dict.’ in AS VIII:3 (1933) 26/1: CRIB. Safe or vault.
[US]H. Yenne ‘Prison Lingo’ in AS II:6 282: Crib, box, pete — A safe.
[UK] (ref. to 1920s) L. Duncan Over the Wall 160: A safe in underworld parlance is called a box, crate, crib, can and other names.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 52/2: Crib. 1. A vault, safe, or strong-box.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 796: crib – A safe or money box.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 20: I was boasting [...] how good I was with the locks and even better at blowing cribs.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad 39: Crib [...] 2. A safe.

19. (US Und.) a room kept by a streetwalker to which she could take her clients for sex; note also cit. 1961.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 57: Crib. – [...] A harlot’s house or room, usually one of many in a group, rented from the same owner or agent.
[US]H. Asbury Gangs of Chicago (2002) 112: Hell’s Half-Acre, in which every building was occupied by a groggery, a bordello, a concert saloon, a low gambling den, an assignation house, or streetwalkers’ cribs.
[US]‘Lou Rand’ Gay Detective (2003) 95: [in a gay bath-house] ‘You go on back to those little rooms. Of course, all the girls call ’em cribs!’.
[US](con. late 19C) C. Jeffords Shady Ladies of the Old West [Internet] At the bottom of the scale were the girls who operated independently, [...] these ultimately tended [...] to live in segregated districts where their little cabins or ‘cribs’ [...] were illuminated by red lamps and curtains.

20. (US gay) a private cubicle rented out at a gay bath-house.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 28: crib (fr pros sl = apartment) cubicle rented out to a customer at the baths for more private fun.

In compounds

crib-cracker (n.) [crib-cracking ]

a house-breaker.

[UK]‘A Harrassing Painsworth’ in Yates & Brough Our Miscellany 28: I bear a message to King Cly-faker, to Prince Crib-cracker — in a word, to Blueacre !
[UK]Bradford Obs. 2 Mar. 3/6: Mr Crib Cracker has quitted his residence in town.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Crutches’ in Punch 3 May 201/1: A bludgeon as big / As a crib-cracker’s nobby persuader.
[UK]G.R. Sims How the Poor Live 11: The little boys look up [...] at the burly Sykes with his flash style, and delight in gossip concerning his talents as a ‘crib-cracker’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 19 Feb. 2/7: Pluck, judgment, coolness [...] are essentials to the success of a burglar who ever hopes to be anything more than a a mere lolly-shop opener or crib-cracker .
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 132: Creaking boards are sometimes an annoyance even to the lightest-footed crib-cracker.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘A Cracksman’s Conscience’ Sporting Times 18 Jan. 1/3: Burglars who visited a house at Boston, Mass., and poisoned a pet dog, returned the next night and left another dog to replace the one they had killed. The reflections of an eminent crib-cracker, on perusing the foregoing news item, are appended.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 15 Apr. 5/4: [headline] Crib-Cracker crooke. Thomas Crooke [...] came up for sentence on four charges of breaking and entering and theft.
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Angus, Scot.) 5 Jan. 4/4: Anyone will now recognise the importance of the modern crib-cracker owning a decent watch.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 23 Apr. 14/1: The head boy [...] is just as likely to be the son of a master crib-cracker.
[UK]Western Dly Press 27 Apr. 3/8: The latest victim of house-breaking [...] is a very well known Bristol barrister whose cold logic as prosecuting counsel has helped to send many a crib cracker to gaol.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
crib-cracking (n.) [crack v.2 (2d)]

(orig. UK Und.) house-breaking; also attrib.

[UK]Kendal Mercury 3 Apr. 6/1: A cross cove (thief,) who is conversant with villainy [...] from fogell-hunting and cly faiking [sic] on the smalls (stealing cotton pocket handerchiefs [sic] and the picking the pockets of mechanics etc) to crib-cracking.
[UK]Belfast News-Letter 11 Aug. 2/7: In that convenient state so inviting to the crib-cracking gentry.
[US]H.L. Williams Joaquin 4: The English when ‘chummed’ together, might be overheard remembering in slang certain pocket-diving and crib-cracking feats.
[UK]Dundee Courier 1 Oct. 3/3: By the fitful gleam they espied two well known rowdies [...] the youths had been suspected of having tried their hands at ‘crib-cracking’.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 4 Feb. 2/3: Many of the most daring and capable criminals of London being his own chums, he will give sketches of their lives, with racy accounts of their most stunning feats ionm crib-cracking.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 63: Putting him up to about as many quiffs in crib-cracking as any boy ever got inside his napper.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 6 Feb. 4/1: Owners [...] lack the courage to take the chances attendant on crib-cracking.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 354: The crook amiably offered to take him on a crib-cracking expedition.
B. Hecht ‘A Doting Burglar’ in All-Story 6 Oct. intro.: The sublime profession of crib-cracking and porch-climbing, wielders of ‘soup’ and jimmy, [etc.].
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
crib-house (n.) (also crib shack) [house n.1 (1)]

a brothel, esp. a small and dirty one.

[US]L.A. Herald 17 Dec. 8/2: A raid was made by the police department of the prostitutes who infest the crib-houses on Alameda Street.
[[US]K.B. Foot Rovings of a Restless Boy 243: It was kept by a woman called ‘Port Wine Denny,’—a big, coarse, red-faced, bad woman, so nicknamed by sailors. It was a true ‘crib’s house,’ but one room for lodgers, with five beds in it].
[US]McClure’s Mag. 37 654: Wappenstein commanded Tupper to ‘get’ the ‘Midway’ — the largest ‘crib house’ in Seattle — and ‘open up’ .
[US]Social Evil in Syracuse 118: Two ministers [...] heard a girl in one of the upper rooms of the crib house cry out: ‘My God, if I could only get out of here!’.
[US] ‘Frankie and Johnnie’ in Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 210: Frankie lived in a crib-house.
[US](con. 1917–19) Dos Passos Nineteen Nineteen in USA (1966) 385: The doors of all the cribhouses were open.
[US]W.L. Gresham Nightmare Alley (1947) 277: You done your best to land that girl in a crib house.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 104: Outside the crib shacks the tricks were standing in line.
crib joint (n.) [joint n. (3b)]

a brothel, esp. a small and dirty one.

Oregon Dly Jrnl 8 Jan. 3/1: Vice cCribs Are Poor Men’s Lodging Houses [...] After the reform wave swept the district [...] Russell rented several of the former crib joints [and] fitted them up as cheap lodging houses.
[US]W. Smith Bessie Cotter 138: Frankie worked down to [sic] a crib-joint.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 138: Frankie worked in a crib-joint / Behind a grocery store. / She gave all her money to Johnny; / He spent it on high-tone whores.
crib-keeper (n.)

(US und.) the madame of a brothel.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 26 Oct. n.p.: Lou. Clarke, the celebrated ‘moll thief’ and ‘crib-keeper’.
crib man (n.) (US Und.)

a safebreaker.

[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 193: He’s just a good crib man [...] He could name and size up almost any make of safe, box, bank vault in the USA. Sometimes he could even crack one by working a bit of steel wire at the tumblers.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]J. Thompson ‘The Frightening Frammis’ in Fireworks (1988) 123: I’m a crib man, an explosives expert.

In phrases

crack a crib (v.)

(UK Und.) to break into a house or shop.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford III 244: Ve vas a going to crack a swell’s crib.
[UK]New Sprees of London 15: [T]hey can fake anything else, from the cracking of a crib, to the frisking of a cly.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 34: He [...] is as daring a cove as ever cracked a crib.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce 343: After a long journey into the country [they] had returned bootyless to London, the sleepers undisturbed — the ‘crib uncracked.’.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) III 432: The old man [...] told him of a ‘crib’ they were going to ‘crack’.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 46/2: Blessed if they isn’t going to crack a crib.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 83: He’d been cracking a crib, so they say, / And the peelers was put on his traces, and they copped him at Hendon that day.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 30 Oct. 11/4: Situated in the outskirts of the city is a rich merchant’s residence, and rumor had it [...] that it was a ‘good crib to crack’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Mar. 7/3: Those most valiant and efficient protectors of the peace, and pies (especially pies), Constables Delap and Bennet, who made the clever arrest, testified that the crib had been cracked in a masterful way.
[UK]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 204: I want you to crack that little crib some night.
[US]Western News-Democrat (Valentine, NE) 8 Dec. 10: [Bruglars] bicycle to a suburban crib which they have arranged to crack.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 16: You have [...] cracked a crib on your own and planted the stuff.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Aug. 13/4: ‘While there’s life there’s a crib to crack.’.
[UK]D. Stewart Shadows of the Night in Illus. Police News 15 June 12/4: Straight-laced people — who [...] hadn’t pluck enough to pick a pocket in broad day, or crack a crib by the light of the moon.
[UK]Wodehouse Gentleman of Leisure Ch. i: He had expounded his views nightly to his brother Strollers, preaching the delicacy and difficulty of cracking a crib till his audience had rebelled.
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) II xi: We’ll crack de crib early.
[UK]N. Lucas Autobiog. of a Thief 182: In Rugby we cracked one or two ‘cribs’.
[UK]C. Day Lewis Otterbury Incident 35: Burglars do often make a reconnaissance before they actually crack a crib.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 51/2: Crack a crib. 1. To break into a safe. 2. To break into a building, apartment, or room for the purpose of robbery.
[UK]R. Mais Hills were Joyful Together (1966) 87: If you mean cracking a crib I never done anything like that.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Whitey’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 215: Whitey and I cracked a crib over in the Village, and almost hit a blank.
do a crib (v.) (also lurk a crib)

(orig. US Und.) to break and enter premises for the purpose of robbery.

[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 188: Now, my dear, about that crib at Chertsey; when is it to be done, Bill, eh?
[UK] in Punch 21 Feb. 87: To lurk a crib, prig wipes, sneak ladies’ poodles, / Gits ’arder every day.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].