HOUSTON – Experts say "Bank Jugging" has become an epidemic.
What is bank jugging?
Bank jugging is the term police use when a victim is watched and followed from a bank. Whereever the victim stops next, the thief is close behind. When a victim leaves their car with the cash inside, the thief breaks in and steals it.
What's the latest?
Just this week alone, KPRC has learned of two viewers who say they were victimized.
Valarie Searcy, a grandmother who works part time at Walmart, believes she was followed by a thief after she cashed a $2,000 check at the bank. She had borrowed money from her 401K to pay for a much needed knee surgery.
After a quick stop at her daughter’s home, she came out and found her window smashed and the cash gone.
In North Houston, at Galaxy Stone, owner Ray Qartomy says he, too, was a victim of bank jugging.
Quartomy says he went to the Chase bank next door and withdrew about $7,000 in cash. He says he was followed from the bank to his business.
Qartomy’s surveillance cameras show the thief first tapping on the window of his car then smashing the window with his arm until it breaks. He then dives into the driver’s seat. Pictures show center console opened. Quartomy says that’s where the cash had been stashed.
How to protect yourself
We spoke with authorities, who recommend these tips to protect yourself against bank jugging:
- Be discreet
- If possible, stow money in a purse or pocket.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car -- it’s like a welcome sign for thieves
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Make sure no one follows you
- Keep driving
- If you feel you are being followed, police say to keep driving and call 911
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Valarie Searcy’s knee surgery.