Green’s Dictionary of Slang

work over v.

1. to search and steal from somebody’s clothes.

[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 53: The yegg [...] was busily working over the injured. [...] He was rifling their pockets of the pitiful contents.

2. (orig. US) to beat up, to hurt to any extent short of murder; thus work-over, working over n., a thrashing, a beating; also in fig. use.

[US]D. Hammett ‘One Hour’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 259: Them lads sure [...] have worked you over! You got a face like a wet geranium!
[US]D. Lamson We Who Are About to Die 104: It was easy to imagine him working over a gee with a piece of rubber hose.
[US]I. Shulman Cry Tough! 18: Boy, [...] I’d give anything to be able to have Crazy work you over.
[US]W.P. McGivern Big Heat 122: You like working girls over, don’t you, Stone?
[US]J. Hersey Algiers Motel Incident 107: You’d be surprised how six or seven girls can work over a really tough guy.
[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 463: You need a working over bad, hog.
[Aus]A. Weller Day of the Dog 102: He waits for them to come and work him over, like they said they would.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 76: They worked him over with their fists.
[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 192: You really worked me over. I’m gonna need a little somethin’ to calm my nerves.
[US]G. Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 109: They worked you over pretty good.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 11: I wouldn’t normally have worked the prick over that bad.