Donations, sympathy flood in for theft victim

By Abigail Hartevelt

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Donations have been flooding in for Rotorua 82-year-old Gavin Hayes after a teenager allegedly stole his car which he can't afford to replace.

The first time his car was stolen, he called police who returned it to him soon after.

Then in July, his keys and car disappeared again, and this time the vehicle was never found.

So a friend bought him a new car for $1500.

However, last week, a teenage girl Mr Hayes had never seen before knocked on his door and asked to use his toilet.

After coming out of the toilet she grabbed his car keys, ran out the door and drove off.

Mr Hayes reported the incident to police, who later told him the car had been crashed and written off.

He can't afford insurance and has no money for another new car so is now holed up in his flat.

Not being able to get to Taumarunui where his wife is buried, has hit him hardest.

Mr Hayes said he had wanted to give up on life after this latest blow.

After reading about his ordeal in The Daily Post, a number of people started collecting money to buy him a new car.

Rotorua's What's Cooking Lunch Bar staff put a copy of the story on the wall and within about 90 minutes had collected $100.

Owner of the Vaughan Rd cafe, Johanne Fell, said reading about what had happened to Mr Hayes had not only made her angry but also sad about what could have happened to the thieves to make them show such disrespect.

"We just want to restore in his mind that there are people who care."

Mrs Fell stuck the story up about 11.30am yesterday and grabbed the "closest vase" for people to put money in.

She planned to continue the collection for a few days and raise as much money as they could to buy Mr Hayes a car.

"We've had people give $10."

Mrs Fell challenged other Rotorua businesses to collect money.

Two Rotorua women Rach Bennett and Michelle Hope have set up the event Gift for Gav on the Facebook page Rotorua Buy Sell & Swap to raise money so Mr Hayes can buy a new car. "I think it might help show him that there are nice people out there," Ms Bennett said.

Donations flood in

Rental firm Rotorua Rent-a-dent had offered to deliver a car to Mr Hayes to use free for a week.

Matthew Leef contacted The Daily Post and offered to drive for Mr Hayes. "I'm absolutely ashamed by the behaviour of these teens and I'd like the chance to be a good person and hopefully restore his faith in humanity."

Mr Hayes' neighbour, who did not want to be named, said someone had contacted Mr Hayes and offered to take him to Taumarunui this weekend. Mr Hayes said he was overwhelmed by what people were doing for him.

"That's nice ... I didn't expect all that. That's marvellous."

If you want to donate money, either go to What's Cooking Lunch Bar on Vaughan Rd, head over to the Facebook page run by  Rotorua Buy, Sell & Swap or leave money at The Daily Post's front counter.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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