Hong Kong police recover $820,000 after $2.6 million cash spilled onto highway

Drivers and passers-by tried to get their hands on the notes after boxes filled with more than HK$15.23 million (S$2.6 million) in cash spilled out of an armoured van onto a major Hong Kong highway. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB / YOUTUBE
Drivers and passers-by tried to get their hands on the notes after boxes filled with more than HK$15.23 million (S$2.6 million) in cash spilled out of an armoured van onto a major Hong Kong highway. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB / YOUTUBE

HONG KONG (AFP) - Boxes filled with more than HK$15.23 million (S$2.6 million) in cash spilled out of an armoured van onto a major Hong Kong highway on Wednesday, sparking a frenzy as drivers and passers-by tried to get their hands on the notes.

Police appealed to the public to return the cash, but only HK$4.8 million had been recovered by Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported.

Traffic ground to a halt on Gloucester Road in central Hong Kong as taxi drivers rushed out of their cars to make a grab for the hundreds of banknotes scattered over the busy multi-lane highway.

TV footage showed pedestrians dashing in from the sidewalk to join in the Christmas Eve melee.

Police, some of them armed with armed with shotguns, helmets and bulletproof vests, rushed to the scene to secure the area.

More than HK$15.23 million spilled onto the road, police said. It was not clear how much officers managed to retrieve and how much had been pocketed by members of the public.

"Any person who finds the relevant bank notes should return them to police as soon as possible, or they may be committing a theft," police warned in a statement.

Police superintendent Wan Siu-hung said the driver of the van made it all the way to his destination, a half-hour's drive away, oblivious to the fact that his back door was open and the cash boxes had fallen out.

"When it (the van) arrived at its destination they discovered that the door was open," Wan told reporters, adding that police would use the serial numbers of the bills to conduct an investigation.

Legal experts told local media that people who kept the banknotes would be committing larceny and could face up to 10 years in jail.