Tour group touches down in Christchurch, within hours their luggage was stolen

SUPPLIEDA man steals a trailer filled with a tour group’s luggage on a street in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch.

Footage shows a silver ute pulling up beside a minivan parked on Leslie St, Upper Riccarton. The driver, dressed in black, unhooks a trailer attached to the minivan, hooks it onto the ute and drives off.

Tour operator Eric Wu said he was shocked.

Tour operator Eric Wu with the recovered trailer. Half of the luggage that was inside it is still missing.
Eric WuTour operator Eric Wu with the recovered trailer. Half of the luggage that was inside it is still missing.

“How could this happen in the South Island? It’s supposed to be a safe place. I’ve been here for three years and this has never happened to me. I never lock my front door, but now I know that you have to.”

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Wu, a freelance tour operator, picked up a group of 16 Chinese tourists from Christchurch Airport about 6pm on Saturday. All but one of the group, most from the same family, had never been to New Zealand.

A man unhitches a trailer containing a Chinese tour group's luggage before driving off with it.
SUPPLIEDA man unhitches a trailer containing a Chinese tour group’s luggage before driving off with it.

From the airport, he took them to a restaurant in Upper Riccarton. They would have been inside for about 40 minutes, Wu estimated, before coming out to find the trailer and all their luggage gone.

At first, Wu said he thought it might have been towed for a parking violation, but it quickly became apparent the trailer had been stolen. 

“It happened on the first day they arrived in the country. I thought their trip must have been ruined,” Wu said

“If it had happened to me I’d feel better, but my job is to make people happy and it’s almost an impossible mission now.”

The tour group took the news stoically, and even tried to calm him down, he said.

Wu put the word out on social media that the trailer had been stolen and contacted police. About 1.30am on Sunday, someone contacted him to say they had found the trailer abandoned on Carruthers St, Illam.

The thief or thieves had taken 10 of the 19 pieces of luggage stored in the trailer. Wu said the most expensive belongings were taken, including a camera and lens he estimated was worth at least $2000.

He said the incident must have left a bad impression, however the group was continuing with their tour of the South Island and was heading to Tekapo on Sunday.

Police received a report shortly before 8pm on Saturday of a trailer stolen from the corner of Brake St and Leslie St, a spokeswoman said. “Police are making inquiries.”