Home Library Library Displays The Life of Arthur Harding A Life of Crime - Making a Living Crime on the Road. Thieving and Snide-Pinching

Crime on the Road. Thieving and Snide-Pinching

Thievery ‘on the road’ was an innovative way of making money. The gang took ferries out of London all the way round to Newcastle, stopping at places on the way and robbing the town centres and market places. They also ventured around Wales, to Buxton and Manchester, but stayed away from Liverpool owing to its extremely competent police force. They went to Manchester in a group of six and all stayed in one room. From there they would go out in threes, one person to pickpocket and the other two kept watch. This little scheme ended badly because a man named Jackie Shinebohm robbed a mother and daughter in front of a shop. Whilst the act was in itself unnoticeable, they saw his reflection in the window and he ended up getting three months.

'Snide-pinching' was slang for counterfeiting coins. Shop keepers thought they could tell a fake coin by the ring it made when you slammed it down on the counter, but Arthur knew a forger who was so good that his coins produced an identical ring to any normal coin.

In order to prevent carrying the coins across the country, his sister would package them up and send them to wherever he was going. From there he would go into different shops and change the coin for real currency. The person who visited the shop would only have that particular coin on him and so could not be charged with knowingly possessing fake money. .

Arthur's snide-pinching days ended very badly, and illustrated the futility of criminal activity of this sort. He only escaped a long jail sentence by the skin of his teeth. His friend Charlie got ten years. The reason was because a shop keeper had given the police a description of two of the lads. They had then set a trap along a country road where scores of policemen waited in the bushes. Arthur was lucky in that he spotted the trap coming up and had thrown the coins away and when the police sprung the attack they found nothing. Arthur said he didn't know the two other boys because they had just hitched a lift. However, they eventually found the counterfeited coins and Arthur's two friends were apprehended at Paddington Station. The description given just so happened to be of the two men who were in that particular shop at the time, but it could easily have been of Arthur. He could easily have been the one getting ten years in jail.

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