Green’s Dictionary of Slang

crack n.4

[the burglar ‘cracks open’ his target]

1. a burglar.

[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]Key of Pierce Egan’s Trip to Ascot Races [printed panorama] He had heard of Cracks, / Spicemen, Knucklers, and Sneaks! / And he longed to be at the head of a Party, To show his authority to lag or to twist.
[UK] ‘Moll Blowse of Saffron Hill’ in Flash Casket 98: Vhen pigmen grabb’d me for a crack, / And sent me to the Mill, / Von voman broght me scran and shag, / ’Tvos Moll Blowse of Saffron Hill.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 6 Nov. 3/1: [heading] A ‘Crack’ Customer [He had] sneaked up stairs into his bed-room, and then and lhere taken, the liberty of applying certain skeleton keys to certain locks.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 20 Dec. 11/3: [headline] St Louis Detectives Capture Two of the Most Notorious ‘Cracks’ in the Business.
[UK]Sporting Times 1 Mar. 1/1: There used to be a regiment of the Line with so many burglars recruited into its ranks that it was called the ‘crack regiment’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 29 Sept. 7/3: When the Cracks tip in a crib, the / Kinchin if he nose ’is book, / Smothers up the way they entered.

2. a burglary, a break-in.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: His pall nosed and he was twisted for a crack; his confederate turned king’s evidence, and he was hanged for burglary.
[UK]Morn. Post (London) 20 July 4/1: They shortly decided [to] go to what is termed a ‘flash house’ [...] and bring out those who were to act as their companions in the ‘crack’.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 59: A Crack — House-breaking.
[UK]Paul Pry 20 Sept. 178/8: We shall be furnished next week with the particulars of the Cornhill Crack, when Williams lost all his swag, although pro- tected by Chubb's patent locks, which to the finished crackman are as much use[...] than if the premises were fastened by a piece of twine.
[UK]Yorks. Gaz. 4 May 6/5: The prisoner observed to her that he had made a fine 'crack,' and handed her some articles.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd series) 369: I have got my own clasp-knife – a darkey – and a small jimmey [...] and blowed if it shall be my fault, should we fail in the crack to-night.
[US]‘Greenhorn’ [G. Thompson] Bristol Bill 38/1: Bill was on the watch for a chance to make a ‘crack’ .
[UK]W. Phillips Wild Tribes of London 71: Wonder what Ned’s been up to; some of his pals have made a crack, no doubt.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 89/2: The morning after the ‘crack’ I told Joe that I thought Leeds would be rather too hot for us for a time.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 7 Sept. n.p.: Now that they have got him in ‘quod’ why don’t they [...] try him for that ‘crack’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

In compounds

In phrases

do a crack (v.)

to commit a burglary.

[US]Sun (N.Y.) 20 June 2/2: Off. — Well, what’s going on? Con. — Oh, nothing of consequence since I came out — only a little ‘knuckling’ just to keep my hand in. I can’t find a ‘Pal,’ and you know nobody can do a ‘Crack’ without one.
[UK]W.E. Henley ‘Villon’s Straight Tip’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 176: Dead-lurk a crib, or do a crack; / Pad with a slang, or chuck a mag.
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life I 50: It was hoped that the persons doing these ‘jobs,’ or ‘cracks,’ as we call them, might be brought to justice.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
(go) on the crack

(to go) out burgling.

[US] ‘A London Ken-cracking Song’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 20: Upon the crack, ye need no doubt.
[UK]‘The City Youth’ in Out-and-Outer in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 139: His nob is never idle, or his daddles ever slack, / All day he’s on the buzz-lift, and at night upon the crack.
[UK]Egan ‘The By-Blow of the Jug’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 145: And ever anxious to get his whack – / When scarcely ripe, he went on the crack.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 137: On the Crack. – Out for burglary or other theft.