ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — With the recent crimes of “bank jugging” happening in Northwest Florida and lower Alabama, there are several that might not know what the term means.

WKRG News 5 talked with Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Tommi Lyter to explain what exactly “bank jugging” is and how you can protect yourself.

“This is the first time that I have heard the term,” Lyter said. “Basically, what they are doing is they will set up a surveillance on a bank and they are not targeting any particular bank.”

Lyter said what a suspect is usually looking for is a person leaving the bank with a large envelope or money bag.

“Once they walk out of the bank with that envelope or bank bag, they simply follow that car,” Lyter said. “It’s a hit or miss. They will follow them sometimes, and if the intended target goes to a business, then they will turn around and go back to the bank or go to another bank to set up surveillance. What they are waiting for is if the victim will make a stop before going home or to a business. It could be a gas station, it could be the mall, and they’ll just wait until the victim leaves their car unattended. Then, they will smash the window and take the money.”

The two that were arrested back in July were pretty successful at the crime, according to Lyter.

“We have already built 10 cases against them,” Lyter said. “They are out of Texas, and it is apparently pretty prevalent there.”

There are a couple of things that people can do to protect themselves, Lyter said.

“When you’re leaving the bank or even an ATM machine, if you see somebody hanging outside, it wouldn’t be a bad idea that you tell the clerks that you see somebody sitting outside in the parking lot,” Lyter said. “I think what they are keying in on is people that are walking out with the money in their hand. So, don’t count the money out in the open, if it is an envelope or a bank bag, put it in your purse or your pocket. Don’t walk out when you have those large envelopes in your hands. When you’re in your car, make sure that your car doors are locked. If it is a large sum of money, where they could get a couple thousand dollars, you want to secure it as quickly as you can. You want to get back to your home or your business. Certainly, don’t lock it in your car. If you have to leave your car, then take it in with you.”

Lyter said when it comes down to this crime, a lot of the suspects are making a lot of money doing it.

“The two that we caught traveled here all the way from Houston just for this,” Lyter said. “From what I’ve heard, it can be lucrative for them if you get some large cash grabs from them. Apparently, it is worth their time. It’s hard to know what they have hit between Texas and Florida.”

One last piece of advice Lyter gave was to make sure to call 9-1-1 if you feel uncomfortable in the bank parking lot.

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