Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sneak n.2

[abbr. sneaker n.3 (1)]

1. a soft-soled, canvas–topped shoe, often in pl.

[UK]J. Greenwood In Strange Company n.p.: Sneaks... are shoes with canvas tops and india-rubber soles [F&H].
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 4 Dec. 10/1: The guards wear shoes made of cloth, which render their footsteps noiseless. The convicts call these shoes ‘sneaks’.
[US]J. Hawthorne Confessions of Convict 276: The night officer wears a species of india-rubber shoes or goloshes called ‘sneaks.’ From being a name for the shoes worn it has gradually become an epithet of the night-guard himself.
[US]Monroe & Northup ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:iii 148: sneak, n. Shoe with rubber sole and cloth top.
[UK]D. Lowrie My Life in Prison 49: The night watch wears ‘sneaks’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 402: Creepers. Rubber-soled shoes. Also called sneaks.
[US]J. Fishman Sex in Prison 156: I could hear even the sound of the guards’ ‘sneaks’ as he walked by.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 95: She sat on the bed and watched him exchange his shoes and socks for the old canvas fishing sneaks.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 101: I pulled off my sneaks to avoid the squeaks / and mounted the darkened stairs.
[US]R. De Christoforo Grease 105: Jersey, jock, sneaks, and socks.
[US]D. Jenkins Life Its Ownself (1985) 188: I brought a clean pair of sneaks.
[US]E. Richards Cocaine True 14: They’ll steal anything he got. They take the sneaks off your feet and resell them.
[US]G. Pelecanos Drama City 191: I was wearing sneaks had Velcro on ’em instead of laces.
Philadelphia inquirer (PA) 31 Dec. D07/4: ‘Howe many pairs of sneaks you want?’.

2. (US) a slipper.

[US]P. Singer ‘The Electric Warden’ Prison Stories Mar. [Internet] He appraised the former butler’s patent-leather shoes [...] but they would pinch his callouses. ‘I’ll try the sneaks!’ he decided. ‘Them slippers won’t make much of a rumble.’.

In phrases

beat one’s sneaks (v.)

(US tramp) to leave, to move.

[US]G. Milburn ‘De Night Before Christmas’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 259: At last he looked up and he says to us geeks, / ‘I t’ink dat it’s time dat youse mugs beat yer sneaks’.