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Second Thief, Best Thief – An Old Jersey City Saying
The Jersey City Waterfront once was covered with warehouses and piers. Adjacent to these were miles of railroad yards dotted with innumerable sheds and small buildings for use as storage and as workshops for mechanics, machinists, and welders.
During the depression, children from impoverished families would climb onto the roofs of the outlying structures, both to hide and to gain a view of the surrounding area. From up there, they'd watch for workers stealing from the docks, the trains, or the warehouses. The initial crooks would sneak off into the weeds to hide the swag with the idea of retrieving it at the end of the shift. Seeing opportunity made available, the kids would wait a bit for the situation to cool. Then, they'd climb down, grab the goods, and make a getaway through the vacant lots.
Practitioners coined the saying "second thief, best thief" to describe this method of survival.
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