Driver Who Kept Money Explains Why

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009  |  Updated 10:36 AM PDT
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$100 Bills on Highway Poll

Bills were strewn on the pavement of I-805.

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SDPD ABLE Released Chase Video

A suspect throws money out the window during a police pursuit through San Diego on March 19, 2009.

Chase Suspect Throws Money From Car

The driver in a high-speed chase tosses wads of cash totaling more than $17K out his window into rush hour traffic.
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NBCSanDiego.com tracked down one of the people who admits to collecting some of the money thrown out into traffic on I-805 by drug suspects running from police Thursday. We do not know this person's identity and will refer to this person as "Cashed In" for purposes of this article. As you can read below, "Cashed In" didn't lose any sleep over keeping the so-called "drug money."

NBCSanDiego.com: Where were you? What time of day?
Cashed In: “I had left work and was driving north on 805 to go home, around 5 o'clock.”

NBCSanDiego.com: Tell us exactly how you got the money?
Cashed In: “I pulled over to the shoulder, since I was already driving pretty slowly in the slow lane. I saw the second gust of money and pulled off to stop. I got out and picked up about 8 bills that had landed right next to my car. I had already seen a first gust of money that hit my car shortly after the pickup and 7 police cars had passed me in the fast lane. The first time, I didn't stop because I was worried about risking an accident by stopping suddenly. I did see a few cars in my rearview mirror that had stopped and women were picking up money that was blowing almost directly into their open car doors.”

NBCSanDiego.com: What did you do after you got the money? How much money do you have?
Cashed In: “I got back in my car and waited for a few minutes, to check and see what would happen with the traffic and if it would be safe to merge back in. When I had a chance to count it, I found that I had picked up 7 $100 bills and 1 $20 bill. I just went home, and it turned out that the guy had finally been stopped right at the exit for my house. My husband and I splurged and ordered pizza for dinner, which we don't do very often. We also went to the grocery store and bought some wine that is more expensive than we would usually be able to buy.”

NBCSanDiego.com:  Who did you call to discuss it? Has anyone suggested you return it? If so, Who?
Cashed In: “I called my teenager while I was still caught up in traffic and told him to watch the news and talked to my husband about what we needed. I also talked to my coworkers and boss today. No one has suggested that I return it, and everyone seems to genuinely be happy that it happened for me. As a matter of fact, someone suggested that this is a small way that some people in San Diego will be "stimulated" to spend some money. It may be a little boost for the community"

NBCSanDiego.com: Why did you decide to keep it?
Cashed In: “I did not do anything illegal, and I do not feel that any good will come of returning it. The amount of money that was in the car will not make a difference in the charges against the suspects or whether they are convicted, it is well documented by the police, traffic cameras, news footage and hundreds of witnesses that the money was thrown from the suspects’ vehicle during the pursuit. The money will sit in the DEA's office until after the trial, to be used as evidence, and then after that, it will be used by the DEA.

Instead, the money that was picked up by innocent passersby will be spent in our local community. I don't know if it's enough to make a huge difference in the local economy as a whole, but it will help the lives of those individuals who may be struggling with layoffs, or trying to find work.

My family struggles with making ends meet every month, and when big expenses come up, we often have to put them off for months. We can finally replace the completely bald unsafe tires on our family car.”

NBCSanDiego.com: Did you lose sleep?
Cashed In: “Not a wink.”

NBCSanDiego.com: What do you say to those people who think it's dishonest to keep the money?
Cashed In: “I haven't met any of those people. I guess I might say that they are entitled to their opinion, but I just disagree.”

NBCSanDiego.com: Are you still considering returning it? What would it take to get you to return the money?
Cashed In: “No, I am not considering returning it. I guess the risk of getting in trouble might make me return it, but I don't see that happening, since I have done nothing illegal.”

NBCSanDiego.com: If you keep it, what will you spend it on?
Cashed In: “I will buy new tires, groceries, and maybe a dinner out with my husband.”

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