1. (also pete-box) a safe.
|Enemy to Society 73: A man equipped with burglar’s tools would be kneeling behind the safe and drilling it open; those ‘petes’—as cracksmen call them—in people’s houses are generally very easy to open silently.|
|Vocab. Criminal Sl.|
|‘Thieves’ Sl.’ Toronto Star 19 Jan. 2/5: SAFE Pete.|
|Man’s Grim Justice 46: Then he told me what kind of a safe it was [...] ‘It’s a front-lock pete.’.|
|(con. 1929) I Am a Fugitive 162: He received life in Michigan when a copper was bumped off during a pete job.|
|Rough Stuff 90: If the inside keyster of the pete was locked, then I had the jemmy to burst it open with.|
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 344: Nobody opens pete boxes for a living any more [...] this is a very soft pete. It is old-fashioned, and you can open it with a toothpick.‘Butch Minds the Baby’ in|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|Men of the Und. 81: They cracked a small pete.|
|Go-Boy! 109: I came across a four-hundred pound safe inside a large cabinet. This was the first pete I had encountered.|
2. (US) nitroglycerine, used to open safes.
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
3. see pete-man
see sense 1 above.
(US Und.) safe-cracking.
|Men of the Und. 324: Pete-busting, Safe-cracking.|
|From First to Last (1954) 67: I’m careful about them pete jobs, so’s not to blow up no harmless persons.‘The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew’ in|
|Man’s Grim Justice 95: One shot ‘pete jobs’ were in order after the Blackstone fiasco.|
(US Und.) a safebreaker.
|Enemy to Society 105: Why, you’ve already caught four ‘pete-men’ who attempted to drill the safe, caught ’em redhanded—the best ‘petes’ in the country.|
|St Louis Post-Despatch (MO) 16 Jan. 25/1: Where do you get off to bawl me out, you imitation pete (peterman, safe blower).|
|Hop-Heads 17: I knew them to be yeggs, one of them a ‘pete man’ (safe blower) of almost national fame.|
|I Am a Fugitive 161: Hard-boiled Jack Martin, killer, heist guy, pete man and jail breaker extraordinary.(con. 1929)|
|Criminology 47: If the ‘pete-man’ is arrested and must go to trial, he maneuvers to be indicted in accordance with this statute.|
|Men of the Und. 138: No peteman would frazzle his nerves trying to assault such forts.‘I Was King of the Safecrackers’ in Hamilton|
|Men of the Und. ix: A ‘pete-man’ [...] may devote months of patient study to mastering the mechanics of safe construction.|
|Naked Lunch (1968) 24: Old Pete men suck the black smoke in the Chink laundry back room.|
|A Man Called Intrepid (1979) 369: The Cracker was a peteman, a safecracker with an encyclopedic knowledge of locks.|
|Hooligans (2003) 23: The woman was killed by a bomb. Whoever scratched the other two knew what he, or they, were doing. It looks like a couple of Petes to me.|
|Steel Storage 114: A peteman is a yegg. A guy who blows safes.|
|Running the Books 242: I used to be a peteman. That’s the old name for guys who hit up safes.|
(US Und.) to crack a safe with explosives.
|Spokane Press (WA) 22 Sept. 7/3: ‘Sniffing a pete’ [...] means forcing a safe with the aid of explosives.|