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Bags of cash fall out of armored truck, burst open on I-5 in Carlsbad

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Jacob Aere
Officials gather near an armored vehicle that lost bags of cash on the freeway in Carlsbad after a door on the truck opened, Nov. 19, 2021.

Bags of cash fell out of an armored truck and burst open on Interstate 5 in northern San Diego County Friday morning, sending currency blowing across the roadway and halting traffic in the area while authorities — and opportunistic commuters — collected the scattered money.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Curtis Martin said taking any of the money is a criminal offense and the large quantity of videos posted to social media will help law enforcement officials prosecute anyone who stole. He also said anyone who took the cash should turn it into the CHP office in Vista immediately. Both the CHP and FBI are investigating the incident.

The spectacular mishap took place on the northbound lanes of the freeway in Carlsbad, just south of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, in between the Cannon Rd and Tamarack Ave exits. The event happened around 9:14 a.m. according to the CHP.

Officials said there was an issue with the door of the Sectran Security Inc. armored vehicle which resulted in the cash flying out over both north and southbound lanes.

A witness's cellphone video posted online by KUSI News showed people who apparently had jumped out of halted vehicles hurrying around, snatching the dumped bills off of 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."The armored vehicle was traveling from a bank in San Diego to the Federal Reserve with FDIC money. The driver was the only person in the armored vehicle when the incident took place.

The loose bills were of all dominations but authorities couldn’t determine the total amount of cash. Officer Martin did confirm the total amount that flew out of the armored truck was less than $1 million. No collisions apparently were involved in the non-injury accident, CHP public affairs Officer Hunter Gerber said.

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Jacob Aere
A CHP vehicle is parked on the side of the Interstate 5 freeway near Tamarack Ave in Carlsbad after an armored vehicle spilled cash onto the road, Nov. 19, 2021.

A male and female have already been arrested for collecting some of the money strewn in the lanes. The woman that filmed the footage obtained by KUSI was not one of those arrested, CHP confirmed.

Traffic lanes were open in the area again as of shortly before 11 a.m., the Highway Patrol reported.

Jasmine Putnam, 26, came to the scene of the incident close to noon. She told KPBS she didn’t see any cash by the time she arrived. She did find currency bands, however.

“It’s probably God’s plan because people that did find it — it’s pretty illegal for them,” said Putnam. “I mean thousands and thousands of dollars on the floor — who wouldn’t want to find some money?”