A tram driver loses his pension after pleading guilty to theft. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, LN9267

A Hong Kong tram driver surnamed Lau lost HK$500,000 (US$63,702) worth of long service payment after he pleaded guilty to stealing HK$10.

In March, Hong Kong Tramways received two complaints from customers that there was tissue paper in the fare box on tram no.157, causing a build-up of notes and coins. A company staff member boarded the tram in Quarry Bay on March 15, and put a specially-marked HK$10 note into the fare box.

He asked Lau whether the money stuck in the fare box would cause any trouble, to which the 58-year-old tram driver answered no.

When the tram arrived in Sheung Wan, a supervisor boarded it and saw many coins stuck in the fare box. He told Lau about the investigation against him and asked Lau, who had worked for the company for 30 years, to resign.

Lau resigned but later called the police, saying that HK tramways had falsely accused him of theft. However, the police found the marked 10 dollar note in Lau’s wallet and arrested him.

On Tuesday, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of theft in the Eastern Magistrates’ Court. His lawyer pleaded with the magistrate to impose a lighter penalty as Lau had already lost his long service payment. The case will resume on July 30.

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