Woman denies tour group’s luggage theft

A 24-year-old woman denies involvement in the theft of a trailer-load of luggage from a group of Chinese tourists.

Cristal Rose Devereux pleaded not guilty in the Christchurch District Court to the theft of the shuttle trailer and contents including luggage, electronic devices, camera equipment, and other property valued at $45,907, which belonged to a hire company and a tour operator.

Judge David Saunders remanded her on continued bail to a case review hearing on February 7.

She is jointly charged with a man who has also pleaded not guilty and been remanded in custody for a case review hearing on January 22.

The theft is alleged to have occurred on November 10, a few hours after the group of 16 Chinese tourists had been picked up from Christchurch Airport. The group were mostly from the same family, and all but one had never been to New Zealand before.

The tour operator, Eric Wu, said the tour group was taken to a restaurant in Upper Riccarton and the trailer was parked in Leslie Street. Security camera footage records a silver utility vehicle pulling up beside the tour minivan before the black-clad driver unhooks the trailer and attaches it to the other vehicle and then drives off.

After word of the theft was put out on social media, the trailer was found on Carruthers Street, Ilam, the following day but 10 of the 19 pieces of luggage in the trailer had been taken, Mr Wu said.