Two teenage boys were so obsessed with buses that they stole the route plates from a KMB double decker, a court was told yesterday.
It was not the first time that Chan Tsz-him, 17 - whose father is a bus driver - and his 15-year-old friend had committed an offence because of their love of buses, Kwun Tong Court heard.
Last June, they were caught taking a bus for a joyride. They were wearing bus driver uniforms and had obtained a bus key that allowed them to get into the vehicle. In January, the two were both sentenced to a one-year probation order.
In court yesterday, Chan and his friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted to having breached the probation order and pleaded guilty to one charge of theft.
"They cannot explain why they love buses so much that they are so eager to obtain anything to do with buses," their lawyer said. "What they need is professional counselling rather than a custodial sentence."
The lawyer said that Chan had loved buses since he was a small child, and his 15-year-old friend had developed a fondness for buses since the age of seven.
The pair loved to learn about anything related to buses. They observed buses on roads, took pictures of them and went on bus rides for fun whenever they were free, the lawyer said.
The court heard that a police officer found the two boys behaving suspiciously as he passed them on the street in Kwun Tong on March 22.
When he stopped them, he discovered they were carrying a bag containing four plastic bus route plates. The two then admitted that they had taken the plates using a screwdriver to pry open the plastic box on the upper deck of a KMB route 3D bus that they had been travelling on.
"They just could not resist the temptation of the plates," the lawyer said, adding that both boys had since consulted psychologists to try to stop their passion for buses from leading to crime. Both teenagers' families would give their full support to help the two boys, she said.
Chan, a Form Six pupil, asked the court to give him another chance as he had to sit a public examination in early June. Magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung adjourned the case to June 23, pending the boys' background and psychology reports. He also allowed them bail.
Chan and his friend committed their first bus-related offence on June 23 last year. They were caught when a car driver alerted police after seeing a very young man driving a bus in Sha Tin.
After they were apprehended, they said they had overheard talk that a bus key could be used to start any bus. They hence obtained a bus key, donned two bus driver uniforms that they had found in the boot of a bus, and went on their 20-minute joyride.
The 15-year-old, who had been driving the bus at the time they were caught, said he learned to drive from playing video games.
For that incident, the pair pleaded guilty to 14 charges, including theft and driving without a licence.