Not many people have heard of “bank jugging,” but the USF Police Department (UP) is urging the community to be informed about the nationally trending crime.
Bank juggers are suspicious individuals who sit in bank parking lots and wait for customers who they believe are carrying cash, then steal from them or their vehicles. Although there have been no cases reported on USF’s campus, there have been cases of bank jugging reported in the Tampa Bay area, according to UP spokesperson Audrey Clark. The number of cases was not disclosed to her, however.
USF students could potentially be more at risk to bank jugging because the Federal Credit Union is located on campus, near USF Palm Drive.
Corporal Chad Davis of UP advised students to be aware of suspicious activity and vehicles when at the bank.
“Since the bank is close to residential halls, having students who go there often can notice unfamiliar cars or passengers and can point out what seems a bit more suspicious,” Davis said.
For those who don’t live in a residence hall, Davis said to look out vehicles backed into parking spaces that have a distinct view of the bank entrance, ATM or drive-thru area. He said to watch out for vehicles changing parking spaces often and to be cautious if you notice a car arrive at the bank, but no one enters.
Although it may seem unlikely, Davis said tinted vehicles and cars that have multiple passengers are possible indicators.
“Bank jugging can occur anywhere at any time of day,” Davis said.
Another way Davis said students can protect themselves is to make sure money is put away before leaving the bank or ATM. Davis said this is the most important defense against bank jugging.
“Students should make sure to not walk back to their dorm if they feel they are being targeted,” Davis said. “Bank juggers will look for an opportunity to burglarize once you have left to go to your next destination.”
Davis recommends that people look around to see if anyone is following you and to call 911 if you believe you are being targeted. After calling 911, he said to inform the dispatcher of your location, direction of travel and head toward the nearest police station or heavily populated area until police cars can find you.
Students can reach UP by calling 813-974-2628.
“We are on duty 24/7, we always have officers around the clock and the bank is one of our more high-profile buildings, so officers are assigned to that area and check it on a regular basis,” Davis said.