The story of the most spectacularly successful shoplifting gang in history, who plundered stores in England and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s – the Kangaroo Gang, led by a master thief ‘King’ Arthur Delaney.
From the mid 1960s, a brazen band of Australian thieves ran riot in London for more than a decade, pulling off the most daring heists Scotland Yard had ever seen. They were tagged by the Press as the Kangaroo Gang.
The gang, led by the charismatic ‘King’ Arthur Delaney, targeted the plush emporia of Knightsbridge and the fine jewellers of Mayfair. But the King didn’t stop there, criss-crossing Europe to lay siege to the luxury retailers of Paris, Brussels, Rome and beyond.
The Kangaroo Gang operated at a time before closed-circuit television cameras. They elevated shoplifting to an art form practised without guns or violence. The King always found a way to simply ‘disappear’ with the loot.
This is also a love story between the King and his ‘Queen’ Alexis, who tried to tame the greatest of travelling thieves. The King’s 30-year criminal odyssey culminated in the biggest job of his career – six million pounds worth of precious gems from Asprey of London, jeweller to the Queen – in broad daylight. King of Thieves is a true story, soon to be made into a major feature film.
About The Author
Adam Shand is the best-selling author of Big Shots, the inside story of Melbourne’s gangland wars published by Penguin. It has so far sold 28,000 copies according to Bookscan and continues to sell 200 copies per week. Adam needs no introduction to booksellers; he has previously been a journalist on ‘The Bulletin’ and on the Nine Network’s ‘Sunday’ program. He now works for News Ltd and the Triple M radio network as an investigative reporter. He is well connected media – wise.
Journalist Adam Shand is the author of two previous true-crime titles, Big Shots and The Skull: both trolling turf made pop-culture by the ‘Underbelly’ series of books and TV. With King of Thieves, Shand takes a busman’s holiday from the psychosis and claustrophobia of Melbourne and Sydney’s gangland wars to follow one Arthur ‘the Duke’ Delaney down the rabbit hole into the fabulous lost world of organised Aussie-shoplifting in Swinging London. Throughout the 1960s, the Kangaroo Gangs fleeced all the major department stores of millions of pounds of jewellery, fine clothes, linen, white goods and even a chimp from Harrod’s zoo—and they did it with ‘dash’. This ain’t literary journalism but it’s a hell of a read, with hints that if it wasn’t so populist one might have considered these Aussies as yet another incarnation in London’s fascination with, and long history of, organised criminal underworlds, from Falstaff and Prince Hal, to Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Hogarth’s prints and Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. Because the irony isn’t lost on Shand: those who didn’t jig their last on the tree at Tyburn were transported, only now their great grandchildren are back from the antipodes. King of Thieves deserves to join Stephanie Alexander, I, Mick Gatto, Burroughs and Bukowski on the ‘most stolen’ list of many Australian bookstores.
Review By Michael Kitson