The phenomenon of passersby plundering overturned delivery vehicles in China typically generates a lot of attention and criticism on Chinese social media. A recent case in Shanghai, however, appears to have a curious twist.
On April 28, a user of Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging service, uploaded a video showing dozens of people swarming a road and flipping through cartons of milk that fell off a delivery truck. An unidentified man in the video explained that police officers had tried to maintain order at the scene, but they couldn’t stop the frenzied grab fest.
According to the description that came with the video, the milk delivery truck had flipped over in Shanghai’s Minhang District after swerving away from another vehicle. The truck was carrying about 200,000 yuan (about $30,875) worth of milk from New Zealand.
Minhang District’s Information Office said in a statement on its official WeChat messaging account that the accident took place at 3:00 a.m. on April 28. The traffic police arrived shortly to secure the area, and with the help of some workers, they had moved the undamaged milk cartons to the side of the road.
The grab fest, however, was a free give-away and not daylight looting—the Information Office said that the owner of the goods had allowed passersby carry away whatever was strewn on the road.
This was not always the case in other similar situations. On March 24, the fish that a fish farmer by the name of Lu was transporting fell off his truck while he was traveling on the expressway in Hebei Province. When Mr. Lu drove back to pick up his fish, he found other motorists in the midst of scooping up and driving off with his fish, a sight that left him in tears.
Because cases like Mr. Lu’s were more norm than exception, some Weibo users have expressed skepticism over the incident in Shanghai.
“There are so many such cases on the internet; how are we to know which news is real or which is fake,” wrote woslsm.
Others reasoned that the explanation given by the Shanghai district authorities—that the grab fest was the result of a give-away—could be plausible given the timeline of events.
Flyingcrane000 wrote: “The accident took place before dawn when there were few people on the road, and the police had secured the scene. Meanwhile, the video appears to have been shot in the day time. So the explanation is still quite believable.”