Snatching money off a freeway can be costly. That’s the word being sent in the wake of a major I-5 cash spill Friday in Carlsbad.
Hours after motorists began scooping up large bills falling out of an armored truck on northbound Interstate 5 near the Cannon Road exit, CHP Sgt. Curt Martin told news crews that video was being examined for federal offenses.
The agency released multiple photos – some very clear, some grainy – of motorists with cash to the public Friday evening.
“We’re working with the FBI now as a joint investigation,” he said. “If anybody picked up cash, we ask you to bring it in to the CHP office in Vista immediately.”
He called on those who dashed for cash to return the currency — intended for a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC, office — to the CHP office in Vista at 435 La Tortuga Drive, near the Vista courthouse.
Martin said a male and female cash-dasher have already been arrested — after they locked themselves out of their cars, blocking freeway lanes.
Members of the public are encouraged to return the money within 48 hours to avoid criminal charges. They also may contact CHP Dispatch at 858-637-3800.
The armored vehicle’s lone occupant began shooting video of the mad scene about 9:15 a.m., Martin said. (The truck was operated by Sectran Security Inc.)
“I want to give people a heads up that there’s a lot of video evidence,” he said. “We’re going to be following up on every lead that we have.”
Bags of cash fell out of an armored truck and burst open , sending currency blowing across the roadway — even southbound lanes — and halting traffic while authorities, and opportunistic commuters, collected the scattered money.
A witness’s cellphone video posted online by KUSI News showed people who apparently had jumped out of halted vehicles scurrying around, snatching the dumped bills off the pavement.
“This is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen,” marveled the young woman who shot the footage. “Someone dropped money all over the freeway.”
How the bundles of cash wound up tumbling out of the armored car was not immediately clear, though no collisions apparently were involved in the non-injury accident, CHP public affairs Officer Hunter Gerber said.
Traffic lanes were open in the area again as of shortly before 11 a.m., the Highway Patrol reported.
Jasmine Putman, 26, who remained at the scene, said she had just gotten out of the Vista courthouse when she received a slew of text messages and a call from her younger brother.
“He was like: ‘Dude, there’s money on the floor on the freeway,'” she said. Passing by, she saw empty bands that had contained $2,000.
“So I was just like: Hopefully, I’d find something and get blessed,” Putnam said.
But she couldn’t find any cash — after following some people up an embankment.
“It’s probably God’s plan,” she said. “The people who did find something — it’s pretty illegal for them. … I’m sure I would have kept it. …. Buy some clothes. I was trying to get lucky, I guess.”
Updated at 3:33 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Nov. 19, 2021
City News Service contributed to this report.