South LA Resident Returns Cash Scooped Up During Police Pursuit

Suspected bank robbers tossed wads of cash out of a Volvo SUV during a police chase through South LA streets.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sal Reyes says he was compelled to return the cash he scooped up during a bizarre police pursuit through the streets of South LA Wednesday. Men suspected of robbing a bank tossed wads of cash out of the window of a Volvo SUV, drawing hundreds of residents to the scene to grab the loose bills. Patrick Healy reports from South LA for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2012.

    Hundreds of people swarmed the streets in South LA Wednesday afternoon when suspected bank robbers led police on a pursuit while tossing wads of cash out the window of their getaway car.

    "There were mothers leaving their kids and they were just grabbing the money, and there was just money in the air," said resident Sal Reyes. "It was just everywhere."

    Many in the crowd took it as an opportunity to scoop up the loose bills, but Reyes says he was compelled to return the money he found.

    He said he picked up the cash without initially knowing why it was on the ground. Someone explained to him that it was money from a bank robbery.

    Witness: Money Tossed During Pursuit Created "Riot"

    [LA] Witness: Money Tossed During Pursuit Created "Riot"
    Student Tia Marks says she didn’t feel safe as she tried to get back to her South LA home in the midst of a chaotic scene after alleged bank robbers turned pursuit suspects tossed cash out of the window of their Volvo SUV. Many bystanders say they couldn’t resist trying to pick up a few bills, some of them dodging squad cars to do so. Patrick Healy reports from South LA from the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2012.

    Several residents described the alleged robbers as modern-day Robin Hood figures, taking from the rich to give to those in one of LA’s less affluent neighborhoods. But there’s no indication that was the intent when three men in ski masks allegedly robbed a Santa Clarita Bank of America. A fourth man was in a getaway car.

    Reyes said he had to return the loot.

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    The freeway chase was born in Los Angeles, and nearly 20 years after O.J. Simpson's infamous police pursuit through Southland freeways, the police chase continues to fascinate media and viewers alike. Mary Murphy with USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism says covering the daring drivers has become an inextricable part of U.S. culture. Ana Garcia reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2012.

    "You have to give it back. You can’t just go spend money that’s not yours," he said.

    Witnesses described the scene as chaotic, with crowds chanting, "We want money," and some gatherers dodging squad cars and climbing over vehicles caught in the melee.

    Mystery Woman Sought in Pursuit

    [LA] Mystery Woman Sought in "Robin Hood" Chase
    Police on Wednesday were asking the public for help in identifying a woman in a green jacket who hopped into a pursuit suspect's vehicle, appeared to take something then disappeared among a crowd that had gathered moments after the chase ended in South LA. The woman was captured by NBC4's cameras. During the chase, suspects threw wads of cash out of the window of their Volvo SUV during the pursuit. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from South LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2012.

    "Everybody was just grabbing whatever they could," Reyes said.

    Police on Wednesday urged the public to return any bills they found, emphasizing that receiving stolen property can be considered a crime in itself.

    But officials say the smaller bills – those in denominations of one, five, 10 and even 20 – will likely go unnoticed and the bank’s insurance will pick up the tab.

    Police did not disclose the amount of money taken from the bank.

    Three of the men have been arrested. Police on Wednesday night continued to search for one of the men who used a different getaway.