Tourist frustrated after theft of $15k of camera gear from bus

Source: 1News

A Canadian aiming to travel and work in New Zealand as a photographer is having to start from scratch after $15,000 worth of camera gear was stolen from an InterCity bus he was travelling on earlier this month.

Noah Bouwman.

Noah Bouwman told 1News he’s spent the past four years building up his camera equipment and now has to “start again” after having it all stolen on a bus trip from Auckland to Tauranga.

Developing a professional career in photography, New Zealand was his first overseas experience and he said he had hoped to build on his work here.

Bouwman, 24, arrived in Auckland from Canada on November 5 on a six-month tourist visa. Set to stay with friends in Tauranga, he went to book a bus ticket through InterCity but his phone battery died and instead turned up at the Manukau branch of InterCity.

With no office open, he approached the driver who suggested he pay in cash (Canadian dollars) and he could get a ticket.

However, no ticket was issued via email or hard copy. The driver allegedly didn’t advise Bouwman of the company’s terms and conditions when he boarded the bus. Nor did the driver tell him the baggage area was not secure.

When Bouwman arrived in Tauranga, he found all his equipment had been stolen with only the camera bag left.

He reported the theft to police as well as the bus company but InterCity told 1News they are not liable because Bouwman by stepping onto the bus had accepted their terms and conditions.

“InterCity does allow roadside bookings made directly with drivers – all bookings whether direct with drivers or through any other channel are accepted in line with our terms and conditions," a spokesperson for InterCity told 1News.

"Per our terms and conditions, some items including valuable and electrical/electronic items are carried at the passenger’s risk. We have offered to provide details to police should they wish to interview the other passengers who travelled that day. However, they have not yet contacted us.”

Bouwman says he’s tried to call InterCity five times to try and get a response.

“They didn’t take my name, give me an itinerary, no email was sent… no virtual ticket,” he says.

“I can’t get through to the same person and every time I talk to someone at InterCity, they give me a new person to talk to.

“I should have been given a ticket. The bus driver should have gone over things with me in terms of how to store valuables,” he says.

Police told 1News they are making inquiries but Bouwman says he hasn’t heard from them in the two-and-a-half weeks since he reported the theft. Neither has InterCity.

In a statement later today, police said they are "following up with the bus company for any further lines of enquiry into the matter, including CCTV footage". However, it wasn't made clear where that footage was from.

Bouwman says it’s a “crazy situation” and wonders if police have enough resource or just don’t investigate some forms of theft.

“The police response is taking a very long time. There’s been some miscommunication - originally I was told police were viewing CCTV footage, then it changed to no-one has been assigned at all to the case and then they told me there isn’t any CCTV footage at all.

“All buses back home have security cameras in them,” he says.

InterCity confirmed to 1News the bus company didn’t have any CCTV footage that could be reviewed for Bouwman's case.

Bouwman says it’s a far cry to how crime is dealt with back home.

“I had my car broken into in Canada about four years ago but got most of my stuff back the day it happened.”

He says he wants to stay in New Zealand but is unsure if things will work out.

Noah Bouwman is hoping to recover his stolen camera gear.

“It’s pretty serious. It’s heavily crippled my plans here. I have been trying to make the best of it – I spent the last four years building up that camera equipment and now I have to start over.

“If I still had the camera gear it would have been easier to pick up more work."

He says he’s now unable to work and his insurance won’t cover the full value of his camera equipment.

Bouwman planned to buy a “nice van” to live in and work around the country but has since bought a cheap one in order to try and replace his stolen gear.

Meanwhile, he’s keeping an eye on Facebook Marketplace and Trade Me in case his property pops up and plans to lodge a claim with the Disputes Tribunal.