Second bus driver's cash box stolen

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 05:00 26/01/2013

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A bus driver was forced to pay back money stolen from his cashbox two weeks before his colleague Hermann Curry died during a similar theft.

The incident last April was not reported to police and NZ Bus did not investigate security arrangements at its Waterloo depot in Lower Hutt, the Tramways Union says. Two weeks later, Mr Curry, 64, collapsed and died after chasing young thieves who took the cashbox from his Valley Flyer bus while he was refuelling it.

The first driver, named only as Gus, was also refuelling his bus at the end of a shift when his cashbox was stolen, the union says.

He was ordered by the company to repay the stolen money at $25 a week out of his wages.

"We'd like to know why our driver was penalised, rather than the company investigating the theft and putting better security measures in place," union secretary Kevin O'Sullivan said.

He copied NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames into an email asking the company to repay Gus, who he says was told after Mr Curry's death that the deductions would be refunded. No money had yet been repaid. "What I have been told . . . is that exactly two weeks prior to Hermann Curry's robbery and subsequent death at the Waterloo depot, Gus was robbed in the same circumstances.

"That is to say, he refuelled his bus at the end of his shift. When he returned to the cab his cashbox was missing. He completed an incident report." Mr O'Sullivan said he found it most concerning that Gus was ordered to repay the money against a background of earlier reports of intruders being in the depot at night.

The incident did not come to the union's attention until last week. NZ Bus chief risk officer Paul Hume would not comment on the case. In an email to the union, Waterloo depot supervisor Jamie Stewart said it was "important that we do the right thing by Gus".

"If there is some sense of grievance there, I would be keen to discuss how this may be resolved."

He said there were points of difference between Gus' case and that of Mr Curry, including the length of time the money box was left unattended in the depot, "and there were no reports of public in the yard".

Meanwhile, Mr Hume confirmed Valley Flyer was talking to the Curry family, who signed a confidentiality agreement with the bus company last year, about a training room at the Waterloo depot being named after Mr Curry. His widow, Nive, did not want to comment on Gus' case, or on whether increased security at the depot might have saved her husband's life.

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- The Dominion Post

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