Cash grab as millions in banknotes spill from security van

Posted at 6:41 PM, Dec 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-25 18:44:14-05

Hong Kong (CNN) — Last-minute shoppers in Hong Kong were treated to a Christmas Eve cash grab Wednesday when nearly $2 million spilled from a money transport van into the street.

Passing motorists and pedestrians were caught on camera helping themselves to banknotes scattered in Gloucester Road in the city’s Wan Chai district at around lunchtime, before police arrived to secure the loot and disperse the opportunists.

Three cash boxes had fallen from the van, resulting in the loss of an estimated 15.23 million Hong Kong dollars (nearly $2 million U.S.), police said Thursday, warning that anyone who took the notes faced theft charges.

What happened next is surprising.

By Thursday afternoon, police said, quite a few of the missing banknotes — HK$3.6 million — had been returned to authorities.

Thirteen people — 10 men and three women — had voluntarily handed over the money. They would likely face no charges, police said.

By Thursday night, that number grew to 29 people who had returned a total of HK$5.7 million.

A statement from the security company that operates the cash transport van, G4S, said “the majority” of the money had been recovered from the scene.

“G4S vehicles have in place a number of systems to prevent such occurrences and G4S has commenced an immediate investigation into the causes of the incident,” the statement said. “We will take urgent steps to prevent any similar cases happening again in the future.”

CNN’s C.Y. Xu contributed to this report.