With their flat caps and jackets, the crooks in these old mugshots may remind you of the Artful Dodger, the sweet villain of Oliver Twist.
But the Victorian boys and men, pictured in photos from a police archive, did a lot worse than choosing a bag or two.
Harry Fowler, Ernest Bayles, Stephen McHickie and Thomas Gilbert, pictured, were members of the notorious gang & # 39; Peaky Blinders & # 39; who terrorized Birmingham around the beginning of the 20th century.
(From left) Harry Fowler, Ernest Bayles, Stephen McHickie and Thomas Gilbert were all members of the real Peaky Blinders gang that inspired the BBC show
The gang earned their name because they sewed razor blades into their flat caps, which they would use to head rivals. Depicted is a group of young members in the early 1900s in Birmingham
The gang earned its hair-raising nickname by practicing to sew razor blades into the tips of their flat caps so that they could blind rival gangsters by heading them.
They ruled the industrialized areas of Bordesley and Small Heath from the 1880s to the early 1900s, when the city was one of the world's most important production centers.
Accusations of 100 years ago show that, despite the gang's reputation for terrible crimes, these men and boys were dragged along with relatively trivial crimes.
Fowler and Bayles, only 19 years old in the photos & # 39; s, were accused of & # 39; bicycle theft & # 39; after they stole the unattended item and tried to resell it.
The police had so many problems with the gang, but in the end could only accuse a few members of relatively minor offenses. Depicted are Fowler (left) and Bayles (right) who were caught in bicycle theft
Stephen McHickie, 25 in the photo, was accused of breaking through a drapery store that was only 11 doors from his own home.
Thomas Gilbert, much older than the others at 38, was arrested for the crime of & # 39; false pretenses & # 39 ;.
All four gangsters are shown in the traditional Peak Blinders outfit, from donkey jackets, silk scarves, pants with bell-bottom, boots with steel hood and a striking flat cap.
Reports from that time refer to the gang members as & # 39; nasty young men sneaking through the streets in drunken groups, insulting passers-by and robbing & # 39 ;.
But theft and robberies were by no means the only illegal activity of the Peaky Blinders, who built up a criminal empire based on illegal gambling, protection rackets and the Birmingham black market.
They were known to fight with rival gangs and sometimes even turned against the police.
McHickie, left, and Gilbert, right, were also accused of less serious crimes than the gang was known for. McHickie was caught about a burglary while Gilbert was arrested for fraud
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