Police in Fontana are asking residents to be extra vigilant in light of an increase in “bank jugging.”
According to the Fontana Police Department, “bank jugging” is when thieves observe victims withdraw money and wait for them to get to a second location before robbing them.
“In this type of crime, suspects observe victims as they leave a bank, credit union, ATM or check-cashing facility visibly holding cash, and proceed to follow them to their next destination,” Fontana PD said on Instagram. “Upon arriving, the criminals seize the chance to either burglarize the victim’s vehicle or commit robbery directly.”
Authorities referenced one specific case of “bank jugging” that took place on July 22, where a victim who had just withdrawn $1,060 from a Chase Bank branch on Slover Avenue in Fontana had their money stolen from their car after they had left the bank.
“[After leaving the bank, the victim] drove to Walgreens on Sierra Avenue and was inside for approximately seven to eight minutes,” Fontana Police Department said. “The victim exited the business and found his front window smashed and the envelope of cash missing.”
In that incident, surveillance footage showed a “newer model” Toyota 4Runner pulling into the parking space next to the victim shortly after they arrived at the Walgreens. The thief exited the vehicle and used an unknown tool to smash the window and steal the recently-withdrawn cash.
The Fontana Police Department outlined several steps individuals can take to minimize the threat of “bank jugging” which include:
- Keeping watch of individuals lingering “without purpose” in the vicinity of the parking area or lobby of a financial institution
- Maintaining focus while inside the bank; Fontana authorities advise residents to refrain from using their phones or wearing earphones to avoid distractions
- Securing all withdrawn cash in a non-descript bag like a briefcase or purse rather than the small cash envelopes normally provided by banks
- Ensuring all doors are locked upon exiting a vehicle
- Avoiding leaving large sums of money unattended in a vehicle
- Being conscious of any vehicles that may follow or trail yours out of the parking area
Residents are urged to call 911 or head to the nearest police or fire station if they believe they are being followed
“Remember, if you see something, say something,” Fontana police said. “Your awareness can help protect both you and your community.”