A blizzard of millions in cash paralyzed a road in Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon, when a security van spilled bundles of Hong Kong 500 dollar notes, presenting onlookers with a Christmas Eve test of whether to be good for goodness’ sake.
The police estimated that the equivalent of about $2 million was missing, local news reports said, suggesting that not everyone who saw the windfall had passed the goodness test.
“Anyone who picked up the cash concerned should hand it over to the police as soon as possible,” a district police officer, Wan Siu-hong, told reporters, according to Radio Television Hong Kong, a public broadcaster. “Otherwise, they may have committed the crime of theft.”
Until mid-December, several Hong Kong streets had been blocked for nearly three months by protesters demanding democratic elections. But the latest, brief traffic snarl was more in keeping with this city that has a reputation for chasing the dollar.
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The money fluttered across an eight-lane section of Gloucester Road in the Wan Chai area after three plastic crates of the crisp, new notes fell from the back of the security van, news reports said, citing the police and bystanders.
Traffic froze as people stepped out of their cars or walked onto the road to pick up the swirls of money. Now Television, a commercial broadcaster, showed video of people crouching on the road to snatch up the cash, but it was unclear whether they were helping recover the money or just helping themselves.
“Many people picked up cash and then left,” a man at the scene said in the television report. “One old lady picked up cash and gave it to the police when they turned up.”
The police cleared the road but said about 15.23 million Hong Kong dollars was missing – about $2 million – according to the security transport company that reported the loss. They were less sure about just how the money fell out of the van.
“We believe the money was dropped,” Wan, the police officer said, according to the South China Morning Post. “We cannot rule out any possibilities at this moment.”