Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hooker n.1

also hook
[hook v.1 ]

1. a thief, orig. one who uses a pole with a hook at one end to ‘fish’ items from open windows, unguarded market stalls, passing carts etc; thus bene hooker boy, an expert thief.

[UK]Jacke Juggler Di: Loe yonder cumithe that unhappye hooke.
[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 35: These hokers, or Angglers, be peryllous and most wicked knaues, ard be deryued or procede forth, from the vpright men; they commenly go in frese ierkynes and gaily slopes, poynted benethe the kne; these when they practise there pylfringe, it is all by night.
[UK]Greene Blacke Bookes Messenger 28: She compacted with a Hooker, whom some call a Curber.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 8: They are sure to be Clyd in the night, by the Angler, or hooker, or such like pilferers that liue vpon the spoyle of other poore people.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 4: Nor will I suffer him [...] to be abused by any strange Abrams, Rufflers, Hookers, Palliards, Swadlars, Irish Toyls, Swig-men, Whip-Jacks, Jark-men, Bawdy-baskets, Dommerars, Clapperdogeons, Patricoes, or Curtalls.
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68b: Give me leave to give you the names (as in their Canting Language they call themselves) of all (or most of such) as follow the Vagabond Trade, according to their Regiments or Divisions, as [...] Hookers [...] such as draw Cloaths out of Houses with hook staffs.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Hookers c. the third Rank of Canters, also Sharpers.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 186: Not suffering them to be abused by any strange Pallards, Ruffres, Hookers, Swadlers, Irish Toyls, Dummerers, Jarkmen, Whipjacks, Glimmerers, Maunders, or the like, or any other Out-lyers.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: anglers alias hookers; the Third Order of Villains: Petty Thieves, who have a Stick with a Hook at the End, wherewith they pluck Things out of Windows, Grates, &. Also those that draw People in to be cheated.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]B.M. Carew ‘The Oath of the Canting Crew’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 50: No strange Abram, ruffler crack, / Hooker of another pack.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 162: The ruffler [...] whose chin was decorated with a beard as lengthy and as black as Sultan Mahmoud’s, together with the dexterous hooker, issued forth from the hovel.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict. n.p.: Bene hooker-boys expert thieves.
[UK]J.W. Horsley Jottings from Jail 23: Take my tip and turn square, from a hook who is going to be legged.
[UK]Tit-Bits 17 Nov. 82, col. 2: There are usually three men in a gang; the hooker having got into conversation with his man, number two ‘covers’ his movements, whilst number three (on the other side of the street) keeps a look-out for the ‘enemy’. The hooker, having by careful manipulation got a hold of the desired prize, detaches it from the chain by breaking the ring and passes it to number two, who in turn passes it to number three, from whom it is usually transferred to a receiver and melted down within a few hours of its being purloined [F&H].
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 7 Nov. 1/6: [headline] An Old Horse-Hooker.

2. (US) a shoplifter.

[US]N.Y. Herald 25 Dec. 1/5: [headline] Store Hookers.

3. a pickpocket, esp. of watches.

[US]E. Booth Stealing Through Life 194: There was a lot of thieves and hookers hanging out there.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 100/2: Hooker. [...] 3. A thief, especially a pickpocket.