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Last-minute shoppers in Hong Kong treated to cash grab

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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.), a police said Thursday, warning that anyone who took the notes faced theft charges.

What happened next is surprising.

By Thursday afternoon, police said, nearly half a million of the missing banknotes — HKD $3.6 million, or $464,000 — 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.

The security company that operates the cash transport van, G4S, told CNN it had no comment on the incident. Local media reported that a faulty van door was blamed for the spill.