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Grafters: The Inside Story of the Wide Awake Firm, Europe's Most Prolific Sneak Thieves Paperback – 21 Apr 2006
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From the Back Cover
Colin Blaney made small time crime big business. Growing up in Manchester in an Irish Catholic family, he set out on a mission - to burn his way through a world of easy money, scams and good times.
As a child he burgled warehouses and factories before joining Manchester United's Red Army, a hooligan mob rampaging across the country, stealing as he went. As an adult he learned to dip with pickpocket gangs, sell dope, and sneak-thieve from shop tills with his own gang of criminals, without a care for the law.
Europe offered the greatest lure, where serious money could be made, or stolen. From their base in Amsterdam, Blaney's gang, the Wide Awake Firm, spread across the continent, doing anything and everything to make some easy money. From stealing Rolex watches in Switzerland, to selling Ecstasy in Spain, to using dodgy credit cards in Belgium, they enjoyed a prolific twenty-year crime spree that fuelled their hell-raiser lifestyles.
Blaney and his gang served time in half the jails in Europe, bided their time, and then went back for more. They simply didn't care. They were on a riotuous,
non-stop, rollercoaster ride - until they finally came off the tracks. They never saw that the end was in sight, because as any grafter will tell you:
Some people live for the day, a grafter lives for the minute.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
BANG AT IT. That's what we were, for more than twenty years. We hit every town and village in Northern Europe, and plenty of others beyond. We did tills, sneaks, jewellery, watches, hi-fis and stereos, furs and Capo di Monti china and designer clothes. I once read a book about the Italian who pulled off the Knightsbridge safe deposit job, the biggest of its kind. When he got home with the swag he filled his bath with wads of £50 notes, bags of pure coke and all the gold and diamonds, the jackpot. Well, the amount we had in those twenty years I'd never be able to fit into any bath I've ever seen; it would have to be a twin jacuzzi. I swear if you went into Watches of Switzerland and bought every Rolex it would not match the amount we had off.
And it all started in a rundown Manchester slum called Collyhurst.
Top Customer Reviews
The tone suggests derring-do but there is little of that. Blaney admits that the best places to steal money were in supermarkets. The best targets ? Harried young mothers. Sweet.
There's no thought to the harm that's done by taking money/valuables from the poor or those on holiday, Blaney needs that money to drink and buy drugs: what fools we have all been.
Hilariously, later he claims his firm were running like a military operation, before revaling that the military operation spent all day (they did get up early, mind) getting drunk and smoking high strength marijuana. And then mugging and pickpocketing people.
It's also suggested that these snide weasels were somehow 'professional'. Not very professional if you spend 2/3 of your life in jail, is it ?
It goes on like this. He steals. He gets drunk/takes drugs. He has sex with prostitutes. He gets arrested.
I won't spoil the ending for those thrilled by such a squalid, risible existence but suffice to say that he does not end up as a billionaire living on a yacht.