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Car theft and other vehicle-related crime are on the rise, with cases skyrocketing in many parts of the United States. Also, there is a new crime wave sweeping across the country: jugging. For jugging, thieves rob and sometimes attack victims as they are “juggling” to get their car keys and smartphone in a parking lot. 

What is a jugging robbery, and how does it work?

Man holding car keys and smartphone by SUV, highlighting new jugging robbery crime wave that police warn about
Car keys and smartphone by an SUV | Mark Putzer, MotorBiscuit

Police warn about the increasingly problematic jugging crime trend. Incidents have been reported in many states, including California, Hawaii, Florida, Texas, and Alabama. 

For a jugging robbery, the thieves typically target distracted individuals and the elderly — predominantly those over 65. They stake out unsuspecting victims at banks and stores, especially those that withdraw money from an ATM machine or buy expensive merchandise. Then, while the victims “juggle” their car keys and smartphones, the thieves strike. According to the FBI, jugging can involve different types of crime. This includes robbery, assault, larceny, and breaking and entering. 

The jugging robberies most often occur in a parking lot as the victims return to their vehicles. Also, some of these crimes were by the homes of victims — after the thieves followed them.

Additionally, a frequent target is victims that withdraw money from a bank or ATM machines. However, the thieves also head to computer stores and malls to scout for big purchases. 

Furthermore, while most of the jugging incidents involve the thieves directly stealing money or recently purchased items directly from the victims, sometimes, they’ll wait for them to leave the car. The victims do other activities, such as eating at a restaurant. And when they are away, the thieves steal money or valuable items such as expensive laptops or other electronic gear. 

Police departments warn about the rise of jugging incidents

Many police departments across the country warn of the rise in jugging thefts — and advise people to be vigilant. For example, the Houston Police Department stated that through October, the documented incidents of jugging (735) already surpassed last year’s total (720). Also, to highlight the dangers, the Houston PD has a robbery YouTube channel, which features videos of jugging incidents. Some of the incidents are violent — as thieves mug the victims in public. 

Additionally, Honolulu Police Sergeant Chris Kim stated that jugging is occurring all over the island of Oahu. Often, the thieves rob victims near ATM machines and then make their escape on a moped or bicycle. Axios also covers jugging warnings from police departments in Burbank, California; Austin, Texas; Miami Springs, Florida; and Spanish Fort, Alabama.

How to avoid being a victim of jugging theft

Thief robbing man by an SUV, highlighting new jugging robbery crime wave that police warn about
Jugging incident | Houston Police Department via YouTube

The jugging crime wave is concerning. It’s scary to think that a thief could rob you in a parking lot or by your home as you get your car keys and smartphone. However, there are some measures that you can take to avoid being a victim of jugging theft, as detailed by the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Springs PD

For one, you should do your best to be aware of your surroundings when withdrawing money from an ATM machine or making a large purchase. Be on the lookout for parked cars with occupants that never enter the bank or store. Also, watch out for a potential thief that might be following you.

Additionally, be discrete about the money or items you carry. You should avoid openly carrying money, a bank bag, or an envelope. Also, don’t try to hide these things in your car if you stop at another location. If possible, take the money and items with you. Furthermore, it’s best to minimize the number of stops when driving home after withdrawing money or making a large purchase. The greater number of stops means that thieves will have more opportunities to rob you. 

If you believe that you are being targeted by a jugger, then call 911 from your phone. Inform the police dispatcher of your location and the direction that you’re heading. Then, drive to the nearest police station.


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