The infamous Kangaroo Gang which I wrote about in my latest book King of Thieves: The Adventures of Arthur Delaney etc has lost two of its prominent members.
George William Gardener, one of the best and little known of the crew, died in Sydney a few weeks back of throat cancer. He was the scourge of Scotland Yard, hoisting millions in forex and travellers cheques from English banks between 1966-70. And he never did a day’s jail, despite being nicked twice by the bobbies. Read more about him in the book. I called him Georgie G in the book, still he wasn’t happy and there was a little drama that other old timers may have given up his secrets to me.
For the record, I got heaps of information on him from former Scotland Yard detectives who had compiled the Australian Index of the UK police gazette which featured all the best Aussie thieves operating in Blighty from 1969-75. None of the old crew was prepared to spill the beans on George to me. There’s still honour amongst thieves.
The second sign-off was Brian Leslie O’Callaghan, who was the best mate of the dashing Raymond Patrick “Chuck” Bennett. Prior to my book, Bennett and O’Callaghan were the only Google entries for the Kangaroo Gang. O’Callaghan was a bona fide shoppie, but Chuck was a stick-up man and bust man. Hoisting is a very specialised art practised without weaponry that few gunnies can master. O’Callaghan and Bennett knocked over a few country homes in England but Bennett was never a hoister. On the other hand, O’Callaghan was a compulsive thief until he was no longer capable. I never met him but heard he was a decent sort of bloke.
(My source on all matters mortal The Grim Rimmer called me with the news on the weekend. He was a little premature with Dennis William “Fatty” Smith who died in August. When I got to the hospital Fatty was still breathing, though the family had already laid the floral tribute across his chest. I had to resist the urge to apply cardiac massage as Fatty had so much to tell me still. So, if you’re reading this Brian, sorry. At least you will have an alibi for the time being.)
Despite his reputation, O’Callaghan was not on the radar at Scotland Yard. He never made the Australian Index and therefore I was loathe to put him up with the likes of Arthur William Delaney and Jack Patrick “the Fibber” Warren. Not to say, he wasn’t a pro, but you have to make Wisden to be regarded as a great cricketer and so it is for hoisters and the Australian Index. I have been using it as my yard stick for thieves. You may have other ideas, so please feel free to share them.