Another meaning of fencing is the act of selling dubiously acquired goods to an intermediary, who will sell them to the unsuspecting public (perhaps establishing a veneer of legitimacy
by concealing the illicit origin of the goods). This intermediary is the fence. I would have thought that they were so called because they act as a thin and rickety barrier between the criminal element and innocent buyers of goods, but in fact it turns out just to be an old Thieves' Cant abbreviation
of "defence" (which is how defense
is spelled in countries which did not defeat the British in the Revolutionary War
Often fencing operations are fronted by (or depicted as being fronted by) a pawn shop
. The 1979 Dom deLuise
helmed movie Hot Stuff
is an especially noteworthy depiction of pawn shop fencing in action, albeit the shop in the film is secretly run by cops, who are videotaping all their purchases for later arrest and prosecution of their thicket of thick thieves. The film is surprising, as well, for how much better shape the famously portly deLuise was in, as man in his mid-40s. Do I think that all pawn shops are fronts for fencing operations? Well, I've pawned a few things in a few places and no questions were asked of the sort which might uncover any underhandedness in their acquisition. So, I'm on the fence about it.