AUSTIN, Texas – Police in Austin, Texas, is sounding the alarm on a new crime trend called “jugging.”
Jugging happens mostly at banks, where suspects follow customers back to their homes before robbing them, sometimes violently. Austin police report that there have been 82 cases reported this year in Austin.
Thieves have made off with an estimated $590,000, according to police.
Police there say they’re mainly seeing women, the elderly, and those who are petite or small in stature being targeted at a bank, check-cashing store or ATM and withdrawing paper money. The robber then follows the customer outside the establishment before taking the money from the victim or breaking into the person’s vehicle, most often at a new location but sometimes outside the bank.
“There, they are approached, threatened with violence, or assaulted while the suspect demands the money or aggressively takes the cash bag,” the Austin Police Department said in a statement.
“APD investigators are working together to identify trends, series and suspects,” the police statement said. “Remember, when frequenting these financial institutions, please be aware of your surroundings.”
The following are tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Take note of anyone that is hanging around in the lobby of the bank or parking lot that does not appear immediately occupied.
- Try not to be distracted while in the financial institution-ie: on your phone, earbuds, etc.
Notice any vehicles that may follow you out of the parking lot and ensure you are not being followed.
- Before leaving the counter after receiving cash, secure it in a different bag (other than the small zipper cash bags or envelopes utilized), such as a briefcase or purse.
- Lock your car doors when you get into your vehicle.
- Do not leave large amounts of money inside of your vehicle.
- If you believe you have been followed by a financial institution for any length of time, please call 911 or drive to the nearest police station or fire/EMS station.
- Speak with security at your bank to see if they can assist you with large withdrawals or if they have any safety suggestions when withdrawing a significant amount of cash.
This new trend is not exclusive to Austin to even Texas, and police across the country are also reporting similar incidents.
Police say that if you believe you are being followed as a potential jugging, immediately call 911.