Two men were arrested on suspicion of targeting customers leaving banks with cash then following them and stealing the money after being caught in the act in Tarzana, police said Wednesday.
Officials believe the men from Houston are behind similar “jugging” thefts across Southern California. The suspects were were found by an FBI-Los Angeles police task force surveilling the parking lot of the Bank of America at 18337 Ventura Blvd. last Friday, March 1, LAPD said in a news release.
Authorities singled out the bank branch as a known hotspot for “jugging,” a crime strategy in which thieves seek out people using an ATM, follow anyone they think has withdrawn cash then wait for an opportune moment to either rob them directly or burglarize their parked vehicle if they leave the cash inside, officials said.
The suspects, Devian Lockhart and Christopher Curry, showed up at the bank in a rented 2016 Hyundai Tucson with tinted windows and paper plates, LAPD said.
Just before 11 a.m., they allegedly followed a silver Rolls Royce out of the parking lot to the Sherman Oaks Medical Center on the 4800 block of Van Nuys Boulevard.
Once the Rolls Royce driver parked and left, the men smashed the car’s front passenger window and pried the door open. They then took cash from inside and fled, police said.
Authorities took the pair into custody a short time later.
Upon searching their vehicle, officials recovered more than $21,000 in cash, LAPD said.
Investigators believe the men are behind other similar burglaries over the past year across L.A. and Orange counties.
Three days before Lockhart and Curry were arrested, Ventura County sheriff’s officials issued an alert about an increase in “jugging” burglaries in Thousand Oaks.
Police urged bank customers to be discreet with any envelopes or deposit bags they may receive cash in and be aware of anyone following them away from a bank. Additionally, people shouldn’t leave money in their vehicles.
Anyone with information on the case can contact LAPD Detective D. Bopp at 213-486-6962, or call 877-527-3247 after business hours. Anonymous tips may be submitted via 800-222-8477 or www.LACrimeStoppers.org.