Getty Images/Imagemore
By Elizabeth Barber
December 25, 2014

Christmas came early for some Hong Kongers on Wednesday afternoon, when a security van spilled 35 million Hong Kong dollars, or more than $4.5 million, in cash on a major thoroughfare.

The sudden bounty — believed to be the gift of the van’s faulty rear door — brought traffic in this city’s congested Wan Chai district to a sudden halt, the South China Morning Post reports. The unexpected, and unintentional, present also presented Hong Kongers with a choice: play nice, keep calm and carry on; or test Santa, keep calm and, well, carry off.

It appears that many were not terribly up to niceness this particular afternoon. With traffic surprised to a stop, passengers ducked out of their cars and onlookers scurried into the dreamlike scene to ferret some of the loot out of the road, local media video footage shows. The cash was packaged in bundles of 500 Hong Kong dollar bills, or about $64, and some bills floated loose onto the street.

Police estimated that about 15 million Hong Kong dollars, or around $2 million, went missing and encouraged the opportunists to give back their Christmas Eve hauls, warning that taking the cash was a “very serious crime.”

Christmas, however, did not come at all for the British security firm responsible for transporting the cash. The agency, G4S, told the South China Morning Post it expects to be liable for losses.

[South China Morning Post]

Write to Elizabeth Barber at elizabeth.barber@timeasia.com.

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