Mishap at traffic light puts Baltimore street in the money

January 03, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

Officer John Kruszewski had the last word after $50,000 to $60,000 in silver -- nickels, dimes and quarters -- had been cleared from a city street.

"I'm just glad it wasn't paper money," said Kruszewski, who is assigned to the Northeastern District. "It's quite breezy . . .," he said yesterday, probably visualizing the wind transporting dollar bills along the street and the pandemonium that could cause.

The coins spilled onto the 5400 block of Frankford Ave. about 1:45 p.m. yesterday when a driver for Loomis Armored Inc. accelerated too quickly after stopping at a traffic light.

The truck, which was going uphill on Frankford Avenue at Sinclair Lane, hit a bump and the boxes of coins poured through the rear door.

"The truck driver tried to take off and when he did, it [the truck] jerked. All the money on the iron-holders hit the door" and fell out, Kruszewski said of the metal trays on which the boxes of coins were stacked.

Police arrived a short time later and blocked the street. Three other Loomis trucks arrived and company workers helped to pick up the coins. The job was finished about 3:45 p.m. But not before some motorists and bystanders helped themselves to the loot.

"There was money all over the place," said James Sherman, 57, who videotaped the incident. "There were quarters rolling down the street."

Sherman and others said they saw several people take money.

"Everybody thought it was Christmas," said Levant Branch, 32, who works at the Exxon gas station at the corner where the spill occurred.

"You tell me how people act when there's money all over the place," Branch quipped.

Branch said before police arrived, passers-by tried to take money when Loomis employees turned their backs.

"One guy took a whole case," one witness said.

There was one arrest. Tyrone Mayo, 40, of the 5000 block of Goodnow Road, was arrested and charged with theft for taking $500 in quarters and $2 in pennies, police said.

Police said the money was recovered when Mayo was arrested.

Mayo was held overnight at the Eastern District lockup pending a bail hearing before a District Court commissioner, police said.

Lloyd Tinker, Baltimore branch manager for Loomis, said because of "the volume of our coins involved and the logistics in counting the loose coins," it will take time to determine how much money is missing.

Tinker said he has heard of other similar spills but yesterday's was the first in Baltimore.

"[The spill was] caused by a load shift," Tinker said, explaining that coins weigh "a tremendous" amount. "One inch of movement on something that weighs a ton or so creates a lot of force."

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