HOUSTON – The crime is called “jugging” and it refers to a type of robbery where the bad guys work in teams of two to rip you off.
The first guy is the spotter, the person who first targets the victim to be attacked.
The second player is the driver, who will help the spotter make his or her getaway once the theft has been accomplished.
Juggers, police say, are thieves who are out to rob you while you are out shopping, going to the ATM to withdraw money or filling up your gas tank at the gas station.
Once a crime where the thieves simply tried to steal packages or a purse or a wallet from your car, now police say juggers have developed a new game plan.
The thieves aim to find a victim that looks distracted and then take what they have, even if that means running up to them and stripping their purse or bags or expensive belongings.
“I think it’s a whole other breed of criminals that have switched over from robbing stores and burger joints to robbing people now. I think these thieves have really become more violent and more emboldened now,” said Houston Police Detective Tracy Hicks.
Now, with the help of three top cops -- Harris County Constable Alan Rosen, Corporal Tony Mascione and Former U.S. Secret Service Agent Jim Napolitano -- KPRC 2 is going to show you three ways to beat the juggers at their own game.
Scenario number one: You’ve just finished shopping and the juggers are watching you. You unlock your car, throw your purse and shopping bags onto the passenger seat and get in the car. But remember, at this point, all of the doors to your car are now open, and seconds later, a jugger runs up to your car, opens the passenger door, and steals your purse and other belongings as you just sit there helpless and confused.
What is the fix?
Jim Napolitano has the answer:
“The woman needs to get that purse up underneath her arm, deep in her armpit so it can’t be snatched away easily. Then, they are going to unlock their car door as they approach, they get into the car and they keep that purse under their arm, they are not going to throw it across into the passenger seat, and at the same time they get in the car they are locking all doors to the car with the key fob. That way, no one can pop open the passenger door and rip them off. Now, they are in a locked car with their belongings and if the jugger does appear at the door, they can just drive away safely”, Napolitano explained.
Scenario number two: A jugger runs up to you as you are crossing a parking lot and tries to steal your purse and shopping bags right off of you. Here, they are forcibly grabbing you and trying to steal what you have on you.
In this situation, Corporal Toni Mascione, a defense expert with the Harris County Precinct One Constables Office, said you just want to escape unharmed.
“So, the first thing you want to do is to try and let go of the purse or the bag and let the thief have it all. But if you can’t let go and you become entangled with the jugger, you want to bend your knees, steady yourself and deliver two fast kicks to the groin area of the jugger with your right knee. At that moment, you pull back as hard as you can and try to break free. Leave the purse or belongings and get yourself free,” Mascione explained.
In scenario number three: You see that someone is watching you and following you through a store. This is a common jugger play, where one jugger targets you and follows you through a store, and then calls jugger number two who is waiting outside to attack and rob you.
Jim Napolitano said the fix for this scenario is a simple one.
“If you see anyone watching you and following you through a store, you need to contact the store manager immediately. Tell him or her that you want someone, another manager, a security guard, an employee, anyone who works at the store, to walk you out to your car. Tell them that you insist on this and the store manager will comply.
Finally, Harris County Constable Alan Rosen said the best way to avoid becoming a victim of a jugging is to carry yourself confidently and keep your eyes open and aware.
“Most victims of this kind of crime are going to be distracted while they shop and while they walk to their cars. They are going to look like an easy target. The best thing you can do is keep your eyes open and scan all around you as you leave the store where you are shopping. Don’t stare at your cellphone. Don’t fumble with your keys or your wallet. Look all around you as you head to your car, and if anyone approaches you, look them dead in the eye, let them know you see them and are aware of them. That’s the best way to avoid a hugging incident, by looking formidable and in control”, Rosen says.
Finally, Rosen said, if you are attacked by a jugger, give them what they want. Your life is worth a lot more than anything you may be carrying that day.