Three suspects were arrested on Tuesday for robbing a woman in a Thousand Oaks “bank jugging” incident.
The suspects were identified as Oscar Ivan Arias Caballero, 32, from Los Angeles, Roberto Atilano Del Rio, 45, from Anaheim and Jordan Stiven Puentes Tunjano, 31, from Los Angeles. Authorities believe they’re a part of an international crime ring.
“Bank jugging” involves thieves staking out potential victims in bank parking lots while following them to their next destination in order to rob them. They typically target people who have withdrawn large amounts of cash.
On Sept. 23, authorities responded to the 300 block of Giant Oak Avenue on reports of a robbery totaling $10,000, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim had withdrawn the large sum of cash from a local bank and driven to Giant Oak Avenue when the suspects approached her. The men allegedly distracted her before stealing the cash from her vehicle, authorities said. The men fled the scene and authorities have been searching for them since.
Investigators say the suspects are part of a South American Theft Group. These theft groups are described as “crime tourists” involving professional South American burglars, typically from Colombia or Chile, who enter the country with the intent to rob wealthy homes or carry out large burglaries, according to The Washington Post.
On Dec. 6, authorities tracked down the suspects at a Wells Fargo parking lot in El Monte. The trio was arrested and taken into custody on charges of conspiracy to commit grand theft.
Two of the suspects, Arias Caballero and Puentes Tunjano, were determined to be Colombian nationals, deputies said.
Police are warning the public to stay alert as violent “bank jugging” robberies are on the rise across Southern California, especially during the holidays.
“We just need to be aware of our surroundings at all times,” advises Lt. Derek Green with the Burbank Police Department. “If there’s something that doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts, get ahold of the police, and if you think you’re being followed, drive to your nearest police station or place of safety.”
Tips to avoid being targeted after visiting the bank include concealing bank slip envelopes inside a bag when exiting and taking valuables with you inside to your next destination instead of leaving or hiding them in the car.
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