The term is an old one.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Comb.: lush-crib, -ken, = lushing-ken (see LUSHING vbl. n.); lush-head, -hound, a drunkard; lush-roller, -worker, one who steals from drunks.
1925 H. LEVERAGE in Flynn's IV. 869/2 Lush-roller, one who robs drunken men. 1930 Flynn's 25 Jan. 524/1 In his hip-pocket, where even the lowest kind of lush-worker would have no difficulty in glomming it.
14 June 1914, Washington Post, "Sixty Per Cent of Deadly Criminals The New York CIty Police Line Up Are Found to Be Victims of Drugs," pg. 14:
"Those of us who have been here for years see fellows who were known to us once as 'lush workers' (pickpockets), 'pocketbook droppers,' and 'handkerchief switchers' (swindlers of returning ot newly arrived immigrants), and coalbin and washline and copper wire and lead pipe thieves, coming in here with all the human intelligence gone from their faces."
5 July 1914, New York Times, pg. SM9:
They have gone out on their own hook and brought in a number of pickpockets, and "lush workers," criminals who rob men under the influence of liquor, and in practically every case a conviction has been obtained.
15 August 1915, Washington Post, pg. SM2:
Here in New York the public dance has proved a greater social leveler than any upheaval I recall in history. except the French revolution. It makes for democracy--and promiscuity. And it has brought to the surface a class of lynx-eyed, alert parasites who were originally "lemon-squeezers," "pool sharks," "petermen," "lush workers" of the well-dressed type, "coin flippers," "wire boosters" and touts.
1 September 1997, New York Times, section B, pg. 1, col. 5:
Officers also run sting operations to catch what they call ''lush workers'' -- stealthy thieves who often seek victims who are in an alcoholic stupor. The officers keep dossiers on repeat offenders and pass out leaflets in English and Spanish warning riders not to nod off.
3 April 2005, New York Daily News, pg. 2:
The test was requested by the Police Department to help protect straphangers against "lush workers" - pickpockets who prey on sleeping, sometimes drunken subway riders overnight, police told The News.