Tips to avoid being a robbery target after you pull money out of the bank

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - It’s a crime called jugging, and according to Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen, it is a fast-growing crime that is happening all over.

“I know that it’s increasing and it’s increasing because it is effective and the crooks know it’s effective. They know they can get your money easily,” Rosen said.

Juggings are robberies that take place right after you’ve taken money out of an ATM machine or a bank and they usually involve a two-man team.

Jugger No. 1, known as “the spotter,” is staked out, usually in a bank parking lot, looking for an easy target.

Jugger No. 2, known as the getaway man, is in contact with jugger No. 1 and will drive the getaway car after the crime is committed.

“I had a concussion, bleeding on the brain and a cracked skull,” says Lori, a recent jugging victim who was attacked in early August and was hospitalized for two days.

Lori is a Houston wife, mother and businesswoman who was viciously attacked on a Saturday morning in broad daylight after she got in her car, drove to her banks drive-thru teller, and then stopped at a nearby restaurant for breakfast.

Before ever making it into the restaurant she was attacked from behind, by a man she believes followed her from her bank.

“The next thing I know, I feel this hand on my purse. I just started fighting and screaming at the top of my lungs. He tried to rip the purse out of my hands and then he just body-slammed me to the ground. He took off with my purse, leaving me lying on the ground. The pain was incredible,” Lori said.

To protect you from becoming the next victim of this growing crime, we are working with former U.S. Secret Service Agent Jim Napolitano, a man charged with protecting four different U.S. presidents, and Constable Alan Rosen, to teach you five critical steps to avoid a jugging.

Tip No. 1: Focus on everything around you as soon as you enter the bank or ATM.

Before even leaving your car, circle the parking lot, looking for suspicious men or women who are sitting in their cars and could be looking for victims.

“Do a loop or two around the parking lot. You are looking for adults that could overpower you and seem to be watching everyone who goes by,” Napolitano said.

Tip No. 2: At the ATM continue to scan the area, stay aware!

The idea here is to be hyper aware of what is going on.

This alone, security experts say will frighten the juggers off because they are looking to target easy victims, people who are distracted, playing with their phone, fooling with their purse or wallet, people oblivious as to their surroundings.

“Look around you constantly as you make your transaction at the ATM. See if anyone is standing near or watching from their car and is focused intently on what you are doing,” Rosen said.

Don’t be distracted by the ATM machine as you insert your card and operate the device, keep looking up and all around, most ATMs even have a mirror there, so you can easily see what’s going on behind you.

Never count your cash at the ATM.

Instead, get to your car quickly, lock the doors and then count your money if you must, but stay alert to anyone coming up to the vehicle.

Tip No. 3: When you leave, check your rear-view mirror to see if anyone is following you.

Juggers will often follow their targets to their next stop, to a drugstore, a gas station, a grocery store or restaurant.

Tip No. 4: If you make a stop, take your money with you and lock your car.

“If you leave your purse, or your wallet in that car, even if you are right outside the car pumping gas, they are going to drive up and while you are distracted pumping gas or operating the pump, they will quickly open your car from the other side and steal what’s inside. You probably would not even see them and then they drive off,” Napolitano said.

Tip No. 5: You're almost home, check your rearview mirror one more time!

You want to see if anyone is following you down your street to your house.

“If you see a car that appears to be following you or is very close, don’t go immediately home. Drive through the neighborhood, make several turns and see if that car follows. If it does, dial 911 right away,” Napolitano said.

You can also drive straight to your nearest police station, go inside and explain what is going on.

Finally, if you are attacked, at home or anywhere else, don’t fight for that money, give it up. Police say it’s not worth your life.

Remember Lori, who fought with her attacker?

She was severely injured and still suffers today from a traumatic brain injury.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. It just totally turns your world upside down,” Lori said.

For more information on just what to do if you feel juggers have targeted you and are following you home, watch the video tutorial below. It will tell you exactly what to tell 911 operators.

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