Beware of 'bank jugging' this tax season, police warn

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(NewsNation) — Police are warning the public about “bank jugging” this tax season.

“Jugging is a crime of opportunity where thieves look for people leaving banks or ATMs with large sums of cash and then follow them, hoping to find an opening to steal that money,” the Arlington, Texas, Police Department wrote in a Facebook post on March 20.

Even though jugging isn’t a new crime, authorities are reminding people to remain alert — especially when cashing their refund checks, since criminals in these cases want to walk away with significant amounts of money.

“As we move into the heart of tax season and folks start cashing their refund checks or withdrawing refund money from their bank accounts, we want to remind the public to stay vigilant!” the Arlington Police Department’s Facebook post stated.

Jugging is a crime that’s happening from coast to coast. There have been dozens of cases from Texas to California to Virginia. Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, for instance, said they have been investigating at least 10 incidents that they’ve recorded since last April.

These crimes can be very lucrative for those who pursue them. Thieves allegedly made off with $20,000 from one woman in Riverside, California, late last year, Inside Edition reported. In a separate but similar incident in Virginia Beach, a Wells Fargo customer said she was swindled out of $33,000 moments after withdrawing the cash.

“These are dangerous crimes,” Lt. Derek Green with the Burbank, California, Police Department previously told Nexstar’s KTLA. “You usually have somebody driving a vehicle. Oftentimes, you have somebody that’s actually inside the bank posing as a customer themselves, and they’re in communication with each other, so they’re keeping close eyes on their victims.”

Police say it’s up to you to stay vigilant. Financial institutions have also posted strategies to help you avoid becoming a jugging victim. These are among the top tips:

  • Take note of anyone who is suspiciously hanging around in the bank lobby or parking lot.
  • Try not to be distracted. Avoid being on your phone or wearing earbuds.
  • Before leaving the ATM, conceal your cash in a different bag like a briefcase or purse.
  • If you’re withdrawing a lot of cash, bring someone along with you.
  • Immediately lock your car doors when you get into your vehicle.
  • Don’t leave large amounts of money inside your vehicle.
  • Notice if any vehicles follow you out of the parking lot.
  • If you believe you are being followed, call 911 or drive to the nearest police station or fire/EMS station.

NewsNations’ Evan Lambert and Zaid Jilani contributed to this report.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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