Across the country, law enforcement is seeing a rise in a type of robbery known as “bank jugging,” and in the D.C. region, Fairfax County police are sounding the alarm about the crime.
The scheme involves criminals who follow someone who has left a bank or ATM with the hopes of stealing the money the victim withdrew, and the county has seen 10 cases of this so far this year.
“They’re breaking into the cars, and sometimes even just opening the car door and going inside and taking that money,” said Sgt. Jonathan Epperson with Fairfax County police.
Epperson said in the most recent case, the suspect went to great lengths to steal money. On Sept. 15, he punctured the tire of a man who went into a local bank. Once the man drove off, the suspect started following him, knowing the driver would stop and the tire would need to be changed.
“That suspect had actually followed him (the victim) and approached him as a good Samaritan saying ‘Hey, I can help you fix this tire,'” Epperson said.
While pretending to help the victim, the robber went into the man’s car, stealing the $9,500 he had just taken out of the bank, according to police.
While the “bank jugging” incidents in the county have not included violence or a person being forced to hand over the cash, those types of cases have been reported elsewhere in the country.
“It can be the suspect actually approaching the victim and taking the money from the victim as well,” he said.
Epperson said the police department is offering five tips it hopes will help people avoid falling victim to the scheme.
First is to always be aware of your surroundings when at a bank or ATM. Next, always conceal cash and bank related items because envelopes and bank bags draw attention.
If you go to the bank frequently, don’t go at the same time every day. Always lock your car and make sure your windows are closed. Finally, report any suspicious activity you see.
“I always tell people just to trust their instincts,” Epperson said.