Canadian photographer Noah Bouwman says he had his camera gear stolen while traveling to Tauranga for Crankworx. Photo/Laura Smith
Canadian photographer Noah Bouwman had only been in New Zealand for a matter of hours when $15,000 worth of his camera gear was stolen from the bus he was on, he says.
Now, the company operating InterCity has apologized for his experience and said it will help the police if needed.
Bouwman was traveling on an InterCity bus between Auckland and Tauranga on November 5. He planned to use the camera gear for a week-long job at Crankworx Rotorua. He had spent the previous 20 hours on a plane.
But half an hour after being handed his bag in Tauranga, he realized his Olympus OM-1 camera, along with other equipment, was missing.
Bouwman said he believed the value of the missing equipment was about NZ$15,000, which included the camera body, four lenses and filters, a drone and a flash.
He said the equipment had been locked in the bus’ storage area.
InterCity’s Luggage Policy states online that media equipment such as cameras and video gear is unsuitable as checked-in luggage and that its liability for checked luggage is limited to $1000 per item. It advised passengers to arrange their own insurance cover for items worth more than $1000.
It also states only InterCity staff are allowed to store or remove luggage from lockers or the trailer.
Asked whether he was aware of the policy, Bouwman said he was not.
Bouwman said his phone had run out of battery before he got to the bus stop, so he had not bought a ticket online.
He said he paid about $40 in Canadian notes for the bus trip.
Bouwman said he was not told about any conditions of luggage storage or provided a physical ticket but believed InterCity was responsible for his gear, given it was put in a secured locker.
Bouwman said he had been trying to communicate with the bus company since but was told, on the day of the incident, nothing could be done until police got in touch.
He told the police, and was told by InterCity the next day that someone would call him back, he said.
But he said this never happened. The last contact he had with the bus company was last Thursday.
Bouwman arrived at Crankworx Rotorua without his camera gear, but another photographer loaned him a camera for the job, for which he was grateful.
“It was amazing to meet all those people.”
Bouwman had planned to continue his stay in New Zealand for the summer and take up work, but needed his photography gear to do so.
“It’s not like someone stole my watch. It’s how I make money.”
The Rotorua Daily Post contacted InterCity through its parent company, Entrada Travel Group.
A spokesperson said its contact center had been in communication with Bouwman about the claim of stolen luggage.
“On this particular day, 39 people were on board the service from Auckland, which stopped in seven locations en route to Tauranga.
“We have followed up with our driver, who does not recall anything unusual about the day.”
In response to Bouwman’s concerns, the spokesperson apologised.
“We are sorry for the disruption and frustration that Mr Bouwman has experienced and we will assist police with their inquiries if they need any further information from InterCity.”
Police confirmed they were investigating the theft, which was reported at about 8.30pm on November 5.
“At this stage, our inquiries into the incident remain ongoing, which include reviewing available CCTV footage and obtaining forensic evidence.”
Police asked anyone with information that might assist their inquiries to get in touch via the 105 phone service or online at www.police.govt.nz/use-105, using Update My Report.
Please reference file number 221105/1775.
Information can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.