A popular crime in Houston is called "jugging," where thieves watch high-end businesses or banks to see someone withdraw money or purchase an expensive item and then follow and rob them. It's become so popular, in fact, that Houston police created a new task force dedicated to solving jugging cases following an uptick in the crime across the city in 2023, the Houston Chronicle reports. Jugging has been on the rise in recent years, increasing from about 715 reports in 2021 to around 850 in 2022, according to department data. It even led to a homicide several years ago in Houston, according to Dana Hitzman, commander of the department’s auto crimes task force. April saw an increase in the number of jugging reports, from 56 during the month in 2022 to 93 this April, an increase of about two-thirds. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said it’s a type of activity the department doesn’t have a specific category for, because it includes a range of offenses, from robbery to burglary.
The uptick in 2023 comes as the department also has seen a rapid decrease in the number of thefts of catalytic converters. About 340 people reported their catalytic converters stolen in March, down from more than 1,200 in March 2022, a decline of about 71 percent, according to data from the department. Between January and April, the number of thefts declined at least 60 percent from 2022 numbers. There’s a chance prospective criminals are simply shifting to the latest profitable crime, Finner said. It’s up to investigators to move with them and assembling the new task force is just one way to combat such trends.