Jan 25, 2023 - News

Austin police data shows spike in "jugging" incidents

Data: Austin Police Department; Chart: Axios Visuals

Austin police figures obtained by Axios show how crimes classified as "jugging" are jumping.

The big picture: Jugging involves thieves staking out unsuspecting victims at banks or retail stores before following and robbing them while they juggle smartphones and car keys in parking lots or at home.

Flashback: We wrote last month about how the new crime trend is targeting the distracted and the elderly.

How it works: Juggers wait in parking lots and watch for people to withdraw large sums of money from ATMs.

  • Around noon on Dec. 29 at a Bank of America on South Congress near Oltorf, for example, a person traveling in a dark gray Ford Fusion with dark-tinted windows exited his vehicle and attacked an older woman, causing multiple injuries before stealing a large amount of money, police reported.

By the numbers: Through an open records request, Axios learned that the number of jugging incidents hopped from 55 incidents in 2018 to at least 140 in 2022.

Yes, but: The question remains whether there is actually more crime on the streets — or just more now classified as jugging.

What they're saying: "We can't quite pinpoint what's causing a fluctuation in jugging cases," Austin police spokesperson Brandon Jones tells Axios. "However, it appears Austin has become a target for out-of-town jugging suspects. It's usually a quick trip and they believe no one here will recognize them."

  • "The jugging suspects are very organized. They usually work in teams and have multiple rental vehicles or vehicles with stolen plates. These groups have sophisticated, swift methods of retrieving large amounts of cash simply by observing persons exiting the bank with bags. This extreme organization makes this crime challenging to curtail," Jones said.

Of note: The term "jugging" is not actually a penal code title. APD created a title code for information- and report-tracking purposes only to know how big this problem was.

  • Tracking with the jugging report title code started about five years ago.
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