'They are working smarter, not harder': Why HPD says 'juggings' are on the rise

Jessica Willey Image
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
HPD warns holiday shoppers in houston of 'juggings' on the rise as catalytic converter theft trends down
After a year and a half of rising catalytic converter thefts in Houston, police are seeing them trend down, making way for a rise in another crime.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After a year and a half of rising catalytic converter theft in Houston, police are seeing the trend go down, making way for a rise in another crime.

The number of "juggings" has increased over the last three months, according to data provided by Houston police. Juggings are crimes during which crooks follow victims from banks or stores in order to rob or steal from them.

Sgt. Tracy Hicks of Houston Police Department's Auto Theft Crimes Task Force says the increase is directly related to the market for catalytic converters.

Thieves cut catalytic converters off cars and trucks for the precious metals, like rhodium and platinum, that are inside. The price of those have dropped. Adding to that, recent police crackdowns and the crooks have shifted, Hicks says.

"The same people who were stealing the cats (catalytic converters). Before they did that, they were the juggers," Hicks said.

Data shows catalytic converter thefts started going down in August, the same month juggings started going up again. There were 108 reports of juggings compared to 58 in August 2021, an 86% increase. In September, there were 93 juggings reports compared to 63 in September 2021, a 48% increase, and in October 2022, there were 83 compared to 66 in October of last year. That's almost 26% more.

"They're shifting and we all, as citizens, need to shift our focus, too," Hicks said. "They're looking for easy targets."

As people shop for the holidays, Hicks recommends making the larger purchases last and going straight home. He also says to make eye contact with people in parking lots and if you feel like you're being followed, call 911.

He says being aware is key in prevention.

"Knowing it can happen is going to save you a lot of headache and heartache," Hicks said.

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RELATED: Suspect accused of following victim home from bank hid in nearby day care, HPD says

This was not the first jugging case this week. Video from an incident on Monday shows a woman being dragged while she unloaded her groceries after going through an ATM.