Queenstown cabbie bowled over by offers

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Queenstown cabbie Kay Benneworth is overwhelmed by offers to repay her nicked takings. 

But she’s still fuming at the thief, who confessed to cops and faces court next week. 

As detailed in last week’s Mountain Scene, cab driver Kay Benneworth had a bag containing $370 swiped from her unlocked taxi-van while she was sweeping glass from a central Queenstown street late on July 5. 

Prompted by the publicity, a 22-year-old Queenstowner, who has just moved from Dunedin, turned himself in to police on Monday night. 

He’ll appear in the Queenstown District Court on Monday and has promised to make amends. 

Benneworth says she’s astounded the thief confessed “but I’m still really angry for what he put me through”. 

The 56-year-old is her family’s sole breadwinner – her partner Gary Preston has Parkinson’s disease. Despite being upset at the theft she had to keep working on that terrible night to make ends meet. 

However, her faith in humanity has been somewhat restored by her customers’ kindness – including one businessman who handed over an extra $60 on the night of the theft. 

And before the bag-pincher handed himself in, and promised to make amends, the Below Zero Ice Bar’s owner offered to stump up the replacement cash himself. 

The man, who didn’t want to be named, reveals he and his family have used Benneworth’s taxi in the past. 

When Mountain Scene called with the news, Benneworth said: “Oh my God. Wow, that’s amazing. That’s fantastic.
“That is so generous and so kind.” 

While it’s likely she’ll now recoup her stolen takings from the thief, she wanted to thank the businessmen. 

Below Zero’s general manager Philip Nestor says the bar was moved to make the generous offer because Queenstown’s taxi services were so important to the resort’s night life. 

“You’d never think something like that could happen. She was doing a great deed, Kay was, by picking up glass and then this …” 

Constable Donald Hillis, of Queenstown police, says the thief confessed to the crime after seeing pictures of himself in the Mountain Scene or on Facebook. 

“He told me he can’t remember what happened – he’d had a big night on the alcohol.” 

The thief intends to pay the money back, Hillis says. 

Where does that leave Benneworth? Shaken but stoic; she’s got money to earn. 

As reported last week, the theft was Benneworth’s first incident in six years of taxi work, four of them working nights. 

It hasn’t made her insecure about night-time driving around the resort but she’s learned her lesson: “I’ll always lock my vehicle 
every time I get out of it from now on.”