Thieves in either version can somewhat work at lower levels if you treat the skills not as normal thieving activities, but as superhuman feats.
Hiding in shadows when there is nothing to hide behind. Moving without any sound, even in a quiet place. Climbing on surfaces that are impossible to climb for anyone else. The abilities are not called "hide", "move quietly", and "climb" for a reason. Finding and Removing traps with a die roll is for when players describing what they look for and how they attempt to disable traps did not accomplish anything.
It does break down with Open Locks somewhat. But even that can be interpreted as opening locks without alerting people on the other side.
If for any other situations, you "assume competence" and let thieves do things any thief should be able to do, then they are not that bad.
The text doesn't say that, because the text doesn't say anything. But it seems plausible in the context of what is reported of the earliest ways in which D&D and its prototypes were played before thieves even were a thing.