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How criminals steal our money: three schemes used by street thieves in the USA

Daily routine activities, such as going to an ATM or gas station, can become the scene of minor offenses. But they cause big headaches and financial losses. Yahoo.

Photo: IStock

Someone is watching a client of a bank or shopping center, buried in the phone. Or gives friendly advice on how to use the ATM. Or says you dropped your wallet at the gas station, or the fun-loving, chatty guy can't stop praising your outfit.

All of this is part of street crime trends. Thieves prey on victims by distracting them in order to grab a purse, phone, or wallet and escape. All they need is a few seconds, in most cases.

Known as "jugging", "tap and glue" and "sliders", these criminal trends have been around for decades but have evolved and taken on new forms, said Kevin Coffey, a travel risk coach and consultant.

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“What is old is new. It's like pickpockets. They've always been around, but they're coming up with new ways to get people involved in stealing property," Coffey said. “Most of them want an easy way to grab a purse, wallet, or phone. They don't want to resort to violence. They want to grab something and run away."


Criminals will wait in the parking lots of malls, shops and banks to pick their prey, which is usually distracted or fiddling with bags, Coffey said.

“Thieves are looking for people who have things,” he said. “It's not just the elderly. Now they are looking for younger people who may have walked out of a bag shop or just bought an iPhone. Today everyone is the main victim when they have something of value.”

Coffey said that thieves "evaluate people" to see if they have their heads in the clouds and how much possessions they have.

“One of the main things of the scheme is to try to find places where there are no witnesses,” he said. “They want to strike without witnesses so that they cannot be followed or allowed to be seen by anyone.”

In extreme cases, the thief will follow the victim. This usually means that the suspect knows the person has money or has noticed an expensive piece of jewelry such as a Rolex.

“These are sophisticated thieves prone to violence,” Coffey said.

Law enforcement agencies have noted a surge in such cases over the past few months, especially in four major regions of the country, including northwestern states such as Idaho and Washington, in and around southern states such as Texas, and in the northeast and south Eastern states such as Florida and New York.

In February, an assailant left a woman paralyzed after following her to a mall in the Houston area. The man reportedly watched her withdraw money from the bank and then followed her 38 km to a shopping mall, where he knocked her to the ground and stole her money.

Police in Killeen, Texas posted a video on Facebook of what jugging looks like, saying: “This is a scheme in which suspects park outside banks and watch customers enter and exit. They follow the customer to another location and watch him get out of the car. The suspect drives up to the victim's car, gets out of the car, breaks the window, steals the bag or other valuables, and leaves within five seconds."

The FBI does not have a crime classification for jugging, which the agency would call theft, robbery, assault, or breaking and entering.

Tap and glue

If there's glue inside the ATM's card reader or it's clogged with cardboard, Coffey says it should be a concern.

“That's how the 'tap and glue' principle works. They stick or stick a piece of cardboard into the slot that blocks the card. The whole idea is to make sure the card cannot be inserted,” Coffey said.

Typically, these thieves work in groups and choose a location that has multiple ATMs in a row, he said.

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The perpetrator seems to be giving innocent advice to the victim, offering to use the touch feature to access your bank account. The touch feature uses radio waves to access your account - no need to insert a card. The victim's attention wanes, they take their money and leave without making sure that their account is closed.

“If you get cash and leave without completing the transaction, the thief who uses the ATM near you and pretends to be a regular customer will go to your ATM when you turn away, withdraw the maximum and disappear,” Coffey said.

This trend is seen in the San Francisco Bay Area, but rumors spread quickly on social media. Coffey said, "I have no doubt that this is happening all over the United States."

On March 7, the ATM Marketplace issued an alert stating, "Several customers claim they were approached by a man when the card reader was not working and told them to just swipe their cards."

“After that, they later noticed several fraudulent withdrawals,” the ATM Marketplace warning reads.

According to Coffey, there are problems with convincing the bank that the withdrawal was fraudulent because it was technically your PIN that opened the account.


"Sliders" uses distractions, especially for women at gas stations, Coffey said.

He showed off a women's handbag. “They want it. It's the holy grail because it has a phone and wallet in it," said Coffey, who explained how it works.

“A woman pulls up to a gas station, sometimes she has her credit card out of her wallet, and her wallet is in the passenger seat, and she is standing with her back to the car,” he said. "She didn't press the lock button, so the passenger door isn't locked."

Again, thieves usually work in teams. The driver pulls up next to the unlocked car, the passenger gets out of the car, gets into the victim's car, grabs the purse, and they drive away before the victim knows her purse is missing.

“They pick their victims, usually on the outside speakers, to get away quickly,” he said. – It is always important to turn your head and press the lock button. It only takes a second to turn your head."

In other cases, thieves may drop a fake wallet on the ground and ask the victim if it is theirs. The perpetrator strikes up a conversation while their accomplice grabs the victim's wallet. Atlanta police have noticed a resurgence in this trend in the summer of 2021 and have issued a warning to motorists.

“Usually, these crimes take place at gas stations,” the statement said. “Sometimes a thief does steal a car, but most of the time he takes things from the car and then jumps in his to get away from the scene.”

“The simplest thing to do is to always be aware of your surroundings,” Coffey said.

“It's situational awareness. Whenever someone approaches, ask yourself why? Why are they attracted to me? Are they trying to create a distraction to steal from me, or do they really want to talk? he says.

Another healthy habit is to look over your shoulder as you get into your car.

“I can't tell you how many times I've seen a suspect walk right on their heels. A quick glance over your shoulder helps you see who's around you," he said.

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If you feel like you're being followed, especially in places like a train platform, pretend to wave your hand and shout out a fake name. "Hello, Mike. Hello Susie. It distracts the suspect,” Coffey said.

He also recommended installing tracking devices in your purse, wallet, or luggage and sharing information with law enforcement if something is stolen.

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