2 Arrested in Bank Jugging Case: Accused of Robbing Elderly Woman After Substantial Bank Withdrawal in OC

SANTA ANA, Calif. - The Orange County Sheriff's Department has apprehended two Riverside men in connection with a series of alleged felonies, stemming from their suspected theft of $50,000 from an elderly woman.

Ionut Marius Andrei and Stefan Romero Oprea were arrested on Friday, September 29, on suspicion of employing a distraction scheme, commonly known as "bank jugging," to perpetrate the robbery against the elderly victim.

The 79-year-old woman had withdrawn $50,000 in cash from a Huntington Beach bank around 11 a.m. on September 19, according to officials. After obtaining the cash, she placed it in an envelope, returned to her vehicle, and departed from the Bolsa Chica St. bank.

Upon her return home around 12 p.m., one of the suspects reportedly approached her, inquiring about directions to a local hospital. Simultaneously, a second male suspect reached through her car's rear window and pilfered the envelope from her purse, law enforcement authorities allege.

This type of criminal activity, often referred to as "bank jugging," typically involves suspects closely monitoring bank customers, either at ATMs or those conducting cash transactions at stores. Subsequently, the perpetrators trail their potential victims upon exiting the bank, confronting or distracting them at another location to facilitate the theft, according to officials.

The investigation identified Andrei and Oprea as suspects in this incident, linking them to a similar case in which an elderly man in Lake Forest fell victim to a robbery, losing $5,000 in cash. In that instance, two men had also stopped to ask for directions.

Law enforcement agencies believe there may be additional victims and urge anyone who has experienced a similar situation or possesses relevant information to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-1829. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.