World War 2
On the 3rd of september 1939 England declared war on Germany. Preparations had been made in previous years for this somewhat inevitable event. The evacuation of 3.5 million people had been planned, gas masks had been issued, ARP systems had been put in place, public air raid shelters had been designated, Anderson shelters were being built and a total blackout was in force.
Frankie Fraser was almost 16. A month earlier he had been discharged for stealing cigarettes from a shop in Stamford Street. This was his first offence. (or the first time he was actually caught)
Five months later he was arrested for warehouse breaking and stealing electrical fittings. He was sent to an Approved school but escaped before he got there. He was caught and sent to Arndale Approved school in Essex.
He escaped from Arndale a couple of times and while on the run, worked for Boots the Chemist and Odhams Press as a delivery boy.
The job at Boots provided Frankie and his friends with an endless supply of toiletries.
Realising that a stocktaking was imminent, he quit the job before it came a tumble. Odhams Press provided another source of extra income for young Frankie. While delivering printing materials to companies, he would case the joint and return later to steal from the offices.
When Frankie wasn't working days, he was certainly working nights. The blackout provided great cover for burglaries and smash and grabs "me and Patsy Fleming would nick a car, throw a brick through a window and then off with the goods". Although their nighttime raids proved quite successful, they attempted a daylight raid on Bravingtons, the jewellers, in Kings Cross.
When they smashed the window, they were spotted by a policeman on point duty, who with a colleague, commandeered a taxi and gave chase. Patsy got away but Frank got captured and was sent back to Approved school.