Theft is a crime, no matter when and where it happens. The bundles of HK$500 banknotes that fell from the open door of a security van on Gloucester Road on Christmas Eve seemed like an early present to those who happened to be in the area. Some were quick to swoop on the cash and flee. But there is no such thing as a bonanza in a public place. Snatching it is nothing but a criminal act. What happened on Wednesday afternoon was too good to be true. Many people watched incredulously as television news and social media showed images of countless bills fluttering among the fast-moving traffic in Wan Chai. Those who happened to be driving or walking past the area were certainly more than amazed. They could take advantage of the spill and make a windfall. While many just watched the drama unfold, some could not resist the temptation. The British security firm G4S was escorting millions in cash for Bank of China (BOCHK). Police are now investigating how stacks of cash carried in plastic cases slipped out of the van. Whatever the circumstances, there was no excuse to take advantage of the spill. The frenzy brought more than just gossip around the Christmas dining table. Widely reported by overseas media, pictures of people crouching on the street picking up money are hardly good news for Hong Kong's image. Those who did so on that busy thoroughfare were not just risking their lives and disrupting traffic. They might think they were just joining crowds of opportunists to make a fast buck. Unfortunately, it turns out to be more than that. As the police said, this is theft, an offence with a jail term of up to 10 years. If the incident was an honesty test at Christmas, some Hongkongers failed miserably. While dozens later came forward and returned the money, millions of dollars were still missing. Police have already arrested some suspects and vowed to pursue others. Those who have taken the money should return it immediately.