Getting money at the bank? Beware of criminal “bank jugging.”
The origin of the word “jugging” isn’t clear — Urban Dictionary definitions include “playing someone” and “stealing” — but here’s how local law enforcement says it works:
Bad guys sit in their cars surveilling the comings and goings at local banks. Then they follow people they believe got money to their next stop. When the person leaves the car — often on another errand — the criminals break in, find the money hidden in the console, trunk or under the seat, and make off with the cash.
Bank customers who walk out with bank bags, envelopes or coin boxes are often targets, according to Tampa police.
A spokesperson for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said they have not seen cases of bank jugging. But according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, there were 27 jugging reports countywide from January through early April this year, with about $110,000 stolen from the victims.
In one case, the loss may have been more valuable than cash: On May 30, 2020, a recent widower went to the the Bank of America at 9385 N 56th St. in Tampa to get his late wife’s jewelry from his safety deposit box for his daughter’s upcoming wedding.
He put the jewelry in his trunk and then made two more stops, parking his car at N 18th St. and E 24th Ave. and leaving it for a short time. According to Tampa police, he returned to find a door lock had been punched out, his trunk opened and his wife’s jewelry gone.
According to a police spokesperson this week, there has been no arrest or recovery.
In September 2019, a man withdrew $10,000 from a Wells Fargo, drove to a second Wells Fargo at 13003 N Dale Mabry Highway to make another withdrawal, parked in the bank’s back lot and returned to find his truck broken into and his money gone from the center console.
Two months later, a customer withdrew $17,000 cash from the TD Bank at 10821 N Dale Mabry Highway and tucked it away in a manila envelope in the center console of his car, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He drove to a nearby Lowe’s, went in and returned to find the lock punched out of the driver’s door and the money stolen.
“Even if you’re going to the bank in broad daylight, criminals will watch from their parked cars to see what you’re bringing back with you,” said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Be aware of your surroundings, and if you’re returning to your car with money, keep it hidden in your purse or pocket.”
Other advice from law enforcement:
- If you think you’re being targeted, call 911 on your cell phone and tell the dispatcher where you are.
- Never leave or hide money in your car even if you think it’s safe because you’re parked at home.
“These are crimes of opportunity that are easily prevented,” Chronister said.