Money for Nothing

Arrests made after drivers stop to scoop up cash scattered across Carlsbad freeway


San Diego (11/19/21) Two people were arrested and others could face consequences after drivers stopped on a San Diego freeway Friday to try to scoop up cash that was blowing across lanes, California Highway Patrol said.

Reports of money on Interstate 5 in Carlsbad, just north of Cannon Road, starting coming in around 9 a.m. Caltrans alerted the public about police and heavy traffic in the area as drivers stopped on the freeway and shoulders.

CHP Sgt. Curtis Martin said the doors of an armored truck came open on the interstate, sending cash flying. Traffic was halted as numerous people got out of their cars. The armored truck driver started picking up the bills but eventually began recording people taking the cash, according to Martin.

"If you found money on the freeway, it is not your money," Martin said at an afternoon news conference. "It belongs to the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) and this armored truck and the bank. It needs to be returned."

Two adults, a man and woman, were arrested on suspicion of taking money, the CHP official said, adding that the pair's car was blocking traffic after they got locked out of their vehicle. CHP said officers were aware of videos on social media that could serve as evidence in their search for those who grabbed cash.

"If anyone picked up cash, please bring it to the CHP office in Vista and we will go from there," said Martin, who also said he couldn't guarantee if punishment would be avoided for money that was returned.

Travis Fisher, a driver who got caught in the chaos and shared video of people scooping up bills with FOX 5, said he thought it was initially an accident.

"There was a bunch of cars in front of me that all stopped, came to a complete stop," he said.

Fisher was surrounded by big rigs and couldn't see ahead, but he noticed some of the truckers were getting out of their vehicles and "running between the lanes of traffic." Fisher told FOX 5 he thought they were running to help someone who was hurt, but then "more people started getting out."

"I see all these things floating around and I realize it's money," Fisher continued. "It was pretty crazy. Just everywhere, there was a sea of bills, everywhere."

Fisher estimated there were thousands of dollars on the road.

By about 10 a.m., California Highway Patrol officers could be seen trying to keep drivers off the freeway and picking up bills, which they placed in plastic bags. An armored vehicle from Sectran Security Inc. was pulled over on the side of the highway, and authorities were working to learn what caused the doors to open before the cash spilled out of the truck.

CHP said they were working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on next steps in the investigation.


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