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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Seek Cash Return To No Avail

MIAMI -- Police went door-to-door through one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods Thursday, asking people to admit they scooped up half a million dollars spilled from a Brinks truck and give it back.


Residents responded with a good laugh.


"Nobody's going to tell them," said Debbie, a resident of Overtown who, like most, would only give her first name.


"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing," added another resident named George. "This couldn't happen to a more deserving neighborhood."


The thousands of dollars in coins, bills and food stamps rained down on the street Wednesday morning when an armored Brinks truck carrying $3.7 million overturned on an overpass.


People swarmed the area, digging money out of the dirt and scooping it off the street, stuffing bags, boxes and pockets before police finally took charge. An estimated $500,000 vanished.


On Thursday, men with metal detectors combed a trash-strewn hill for leftovers and police knocked on 75 doors urging people to turn in the money, no questions asked, before a two-day grace period ends at noon Saturday.


Nobody did.


The suggestion that people in impoverished Overtown should give back the money brought laughter from residents.


Some people took money into a nearby Republic National Bank on Wednesday and asked for coin wrappers or dollar bills in exchange for coins.


"They were bringing the money in bags and in their shirts," Michelle Barrett, who works at Republic, said Thursday. "They brought in an average of $200 apiece."


The Brinks driver, Walter Cravero, was charged with careless driving and operating improper equipment because the truck had three bald tires.


After the grace period expires, police plan to seek television news videotape to aid them in identifying the money grabbers.


People may not realize the seriousness of taking the money, said police spokesman Lieutenant Bill Schwartz. Those caught with the cash after the grace period could face grand theft charges if they have more than $1,000.


"There was a carnival atmosphere. People were having a great time, talking about Christmas coming late, finders keepers and the like," he said. "But it is ethically, morally and legally wrong."


That wasn't the attitude of Eric, a student at Booker T. Washington Middle School, who said the Brinks bonanza was the main topic of discussion on campus Thursday.


"From what black people need around here," he said, "they ought to do it every week."