SAN ANTONIO – It’s a term you may have never heard of, but San Antonio police say “jugging” is a crime that’s on the rise in central and south Texas, and it’s one you need to look out for this holiday season as you go to banks or ATMs.
Officials say the crime involves thieves stalking their victims and, in some cases, following them to multiple locations, waiting for the perfect time to steal their money.
“I’m always aware of my surroundings. I’m always checking my rearview mirrors, my side-view mirrors,” said Mark Walker, a bank customer. “People are doing everything nowadays.”
Like all the other bank customers KSAT spoke with on Tuesday, Walker had never heard of jugging.
Local law enforcement officials say the crime has gained popularity in our area over the last three years, especially this holiday season.
“Criminals are monitoring banks, sitting outside and watching people going in and conducting transactions and then walking outside generally with a large envelope in their hand,” said Lt. Marcus Booth, with the San Antonio Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit.
In many cases, officials say the suspects watch their victims from a distance with binoculars. The victims are so far away that they don’t even know what’s going on.
“People will drive away, go somewhere else -- maybe go to a restaurant or another commercial business, perhaps leave that envelope in their vehicle. And these criminals are breaking into the vehicles and stealing those envelopes,” Booth said.
Booth said that, in rare cases, offenders have been known to turn violent.
“Some of these have turned into outright robberies, where they walk up to somebody and physically take it from them or point a gun at them,” Booth said.
Some say the term “jugging” came about decades ago when people would transport money in jugs. Either way, police say it’s a serious crime that could possibly be avoided by merely concealing your envelopes in a jacket or a purse.
“Don’t carry things like that in your hand. It’s a dead giveaway that you have a lot of cash,” Booth said.
San Antonio police say if you think you’re in the process of being jugged, call 911 immediately and drive to a police substation.