Police say criminals are watching people at banks, plotting to steal cash

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the holidays ramp up, so will crimes on people carrying money.

Detectives are sending out a warning for anyone going to the bank after a series of bank juggings.

Bank jugging is when a criminal watches for people carrying money as they walk out of banks, then follows the victim to steal the money from his or her car.

Tyler Sample, who works in Cedar Park, learned the hard way about the crime. He went in his bank, the Wells Fargo off of East Whitestone Boulevard in Cedar Park, and withdrew several thousand dollars for a down payment on a truck.

“I walked out, I must’ve had the envelope in my hand for a split second before I put it in my pocket to get in the car, and I guess that split second is all it takes for someone like that to want to rob you,” Sample said.

He says he put the money in his center console and drove to a convenience store across the street, where he went inside to use the restroom.

“I went in for maybe 60 seconds, came back out and my window’s smashed in,” Sample said. “It was just completely devastating.”

All of the money was gone.

Cedar Park police say Sample’s case is the fourth report of bank jugging they’ve seen in the past couple of months. CPPD Detective Anthony Bridgewater says it’s an issue in departments all across central Texas.

“We’re currently trying to work all together to try to figure out how to put an end and how to put a stop to this,” Bridgewater said.

The property crimes detective says signs that you withdrew money should never be visible when leaving the bank.

“Put it in a purse, put it in a briefcase, put it in your pocket,” Bridgewater said. “Don’t let people see you walk out with the envelopes or the moneybags.”

Bridgewater says people should keep the money on their persons, rather than putting it in a center console or elsewhere in a car. He also says not to stop anywere in between the bank and where the cash needs to go.

Officers say juggers have followed people from a number of different banks in Cedar Park this year.

In Sample’s case, he says he was told this isn’t the first time his bank was hit.

“I was actually surprised whenever the police department told me that it’s been happening at this Wells Fargo,” he said of the 1890 Ranch shopping center bank. “I think the bank should be at least somewhat responsible for at least putting out signs or making the public aware when they’re walking up to the bank, ‘Hey this has been going on in this area.’ You know, a simple warning or a sign. If I would’ve read a sign, I feel like this could have all been prevented.”

Cedar Park police say they inform banks when they are investigating juggings involving their locations.

KXAN asked a media spokesperson for the Wells Fargo on East Whitestone Boulevard whether the bank employees would consider warning customers.

The spokesperson didn’t give a direct answer to that question, saying in part, “Regarding this or any robbery, we recommend contacting law enforcement. We defer to the guidance of law enforcement officials, and the advice they offer local residents to protect themselves from criminal activity.”

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