Hong Kong – Up to S$2.6 million has gone missing after members of the public helped themselves to bank notes worth S$6 million that spilled across a busy motorway in Wan Chai at lunchtime on Christmas eve. The banknotes are from a cash transport vehicle which was involved in a road accident.
Hong Kong police have asked the public to help return the money which has gone missing in the accident. About HK$15 million (around S$2.6 million) went missing after the frantic scramble by the members of the public for the loose HK$500 (S$85) notes.
Officers were seen in a police van counting out notes recovered from the scene.
[youtube id=”-TmXHiT-FKY” align=”center” mode=”normal”] The security van in the accident was transporting a total HK$525 million (around S$89.5 million) in cash, police said. Each cash box contained HK$17.5 million (around S$3 million) in HK$500 (S$85) notes.
Of the HK$35 million (S$6 million) that was spilled in the accident, some HK$20 million (S$3.4 million) had been retrieved, according to the Hong Kong police.
Despite the excesses of cash spilled, the van operated by three guards continued driving to G4S’s headquarters in Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon, 14 kilometers way, until the incident was reported.
The eyewitness said he had just left his office building when he noticed traffic grind to a halt.
“It all started slowing down and I noticed a couple of blue boxes on the road. I thought a lorry had lost some of its load. I saw a few people in the street picking up what I thought were iPhone boxes. As I got closer I saw they were wrapped bundles of bills.
“As well as the packed money there were HK$500 bills lying on the road itself.”
“At first people did nothing, then one person went into the road,” the witness said, before telling how others quickly followed suit.
“You couldn’t make it up. There were 20 or 30 people picking up cash from the road on Christmas Eve. They looked like schoolkids who knew they were being naughty, but thought, ’this is a once in a lifetime thing’. Everyone had the same look on their face.”
Pictures posted on social media showed a taxi driver abandoning his car in the middle of the busy dual carriageway and scrambling around on the tarmac in an effort to collect some of the cash.
Police superintendent Wan Siu-hong said on Wednesday afternoon: “I would like to take the opportunity to appeal to every member of the public that if they picked up any money to handover to any police officer or any police station as soon as possible.
“If he or she keeps the money for his own use, he may commit an offence of theft which is a very serious crime under ordinance,” he said.
It has been reported that some members of the public who have picked up the bank notes have since gone to the police to surrender the money.
Sheeta Leung Hui-kwan, a spokeswoman for G4S Hong Kong, said: “We are still having an internal investigation and we found that something went wrong with the door on the left side.
“Our guards [conducted] the job according to the standard procedure but during the incident there were three guards in the van.
“Our guards reported the incident when they reached Cheung Sha Wan, our head office. Due to the code of conduct and the comfort problem, we will not put any guards inside where we store the money.
“The normal procedure is, if the bank wants to release the money somewhere, we will collect the cash and then put it in our vault, and we have to count the cash for security, and then we will deliver it according to the bank’s order.”
G4S said the bank only normally recorded the serial numbers if they were new notes, rather than a reused one. The security firm was only responsible for counting the cash and making sure the amount was correct, Leung added.
Regarding potential responsibility for the losses, Leung said “it is for sure” G4S is liable to cover the lost funds.