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At 1am Tuesday Liz heard a loud bang. Someone was smashing their way into her Orange home

June 8, 2023

By Peter Holmes

IT IS 1am Tuesday (June 6, 2023) and Liz is up late watching TV at the home she shares with her husband William [not their real names] in East Orange.

A light is on in the living room, but the rest of the house is in darkness.

The timeline of what happens over the next 30 seconds is a little fuzzy.

Liz's female cockatoo - in a large cage in the kitchen and dining area - begins screaming furiously, as if possibly distressed.

“The decibel level was high,” Liz told The Orange News Examiner.

[Liz had heard that sound before; on one occasion the bird had damaged its left wing after literally getting itself into a flap. The couple can’t be sure, but the theory was that the bird had either woken suddenly from a dream, or had spotted something such as a mouse on the floor of the cage. Either way, the bird’s left wing had to be amputated.]


RISING from the lounge Liz calls to the cockatoo to let it know she is on her way. Then she is jolted by what sounds like a gunshot or an explosion coming from the kitchen area.

The distance from the lounge room, along a hallway, to the entry to the kitchen and dining area is only about 10 metres, but there are no direct sightlines.

William photographed the position of the rock. Photo: Supplied.

“I came around the corner into the kitchen there was what [I think] was a bloke all dressed in black with a hoodie,” Liz said. “I think the cockatoo must have seen him on the verandah.

“He grabbed [William’s wallet and keys] off the kitchen bench and then ran out. I went to the [sliding glass] door to lock it to keep him out - I thought we must have forgotten to lock it. But it appears we hadn’t. We had locked it, but there was no door there anymore - he’d smashed the glass. He just came in and out where the glass used to be.”

No words are spoken between Liz and the bandit.

“No, I think it could well have been shock on both parts. I’d gone from where the lights were on to where the lights were off and was trying to adjust to the darkness.

"He grabbed the things and ran and I went to lock him out, but I was trying to lock a door that had no glass in it.”

Liz says CCTV footage revealed four people out the front of the property shortly before the home invasion.

The smashed sliding door. Photo: Supplied.

“It shows a car coming up the street twice, and then a third time with its lights out. It parks across the road and four people run towards my house.”

A sleeping William, meanwhile, has been woken either by the bird’s ruckus or the glass smashing and hurries towards the kitchen in his pyjamas, dialling 000 as he goes.

The keys to William’s car are among those stolen.

The thief exits the house, runs to William’s car - a five-year-old VW Golf - and drives off.

Liz’s car is locked in the garage. The couple run to get a view of the front of the property and see people in the first car driving away.

Liz estimates that police from Orange are on the scene within about five minutes.

One of the officers tells Liz they are shocked by the force used to gain entry, and that it is highly unusual.

The kitchen floor near the door is covered in small pieces of glass. On the other side of the kitchen floor sits a rock, which is greater in size than a rockmelon.

WHEN The Orange News Examiner visits Liz and William on Wednesday - the day after the robbery - the smashed sliding door has been boarded up with a sheet of plywood, cardboard and tape. William shows me a quote to replace it - $1,500.

He points to a dent in the polished concrete kitchen floor. After flying through the glass sliding door, the rock chips the floor, such is the force with which it has been projected.

William brings out a tape measure. From the smashed sliding door to the 20 cent piece sized chip is a distance of about 2.2 metres.

After bouncing on the floor the rock then continues for another 2.8 metres before slamming into - and damaging - the base of the cupboards on the other side of the kitchen.

I ask how heavy he thinks the rock is. William produces a pair of bathroom scales. Five kilograms. Enough to cause a person serious harm.

The boarded up sliding door. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Police tell William that within minutes of him reporting the break-in and the theft of the car, his VW Golf is spotted near Pimpala Place in Glenroi, where police are guarding a property following Saturday’s fatal house fire.

“They said, ‘We’ve just got a call from the police on site [at Pimpala Place], they just saw the car driving past’,” William said.

Early on Tuesday afternoon the police find the vehicle in Bowen. Stolen cars can be moved out of the district, torched or treated roughly and then dumped.

William is told by the towing company that the car “looks largely undamaged, except they knocked the interior mirror off the windscreen”.

Liz says police believe the location and condition of the vehicle suggest it had not outlived its usefulness.

A brown wallet is spotted in the console between the driver and front passenger seats, but it is left untouched by towies to ensure the interior isn’t compromised before forensics examine it. No keys are seen from the outside.

The rock. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

William says the car will be returned once it has been examined.


A FEW weeks before the robbery, on a weekend, there is a knock at Liz and William’s front door.

“It was two girls about 12 years old, and they wanted to know how to get to McDonald’s,” Liz said.

Their house, like most of the others on their suburban cul de sac, is sat on a large block and has design elements that set it apart from the standard package home.

It is nowhere near either of the two McDonald’s in the city. And it’s 2023 - widely accessible smartphone technology can direct people to the nearest hamburger joint.

At any rate, if you genuinely need to find your way to a McHappy Meal, why walk past several houses to ask the people right at the end of the cul de sac?

Liz is later told by a neighbour with surveillance cameras that as the girls are talking to Liz at the front door, two older men are in her garden. She and William believe their house was likely being cased.


IN the aftermath of the robbery, William and Liz are investing in upgraded security.

There is talk of bars on windows and doors, which will make them safer, but cruel some of the pleasant views. The metal bars are already a source of vigorous discussion.

Liz says her son is “cross” that she hasn’t taken his advice on such matters.

She is not exactly sure why their house was chosen, but says “there are some fairly expensive houses here, I don’t know whether they thought there might be people with a lot of money lying around”.

NSW Police advise people not to leave keys, wallets, purses and handbags near the front door or on the kitchen bench, but in the case of Liz and William, it is perhaps serendipitous that the items were in plain sight and easy to grab.

What might have happened had the thief not been able to quickly find what they were looking for?

On the other hand, a thief shining a torch through the sliding door may have spotted the keys and wallet and then chosen to proceed after realising the door was locked.

On Wednesday night Liz barely sleeps a wink. The cockatoo is not its usual self and wants to remain with her overnight. And keys to her home are out there somewhere, and the locksmith can't make it on Wednesday. That is being rectified today (Thursday June 8, 2023).

“I don’t want another night [without the locks changed],” Liz said.

Remarkably, she says she holds no ill will towards the person that smashed their way into her home.

She says Orange is home to those who have a lot, those who have not much, and all points in between.

Glass on the kitchen floor. Photo: Supplied.

“There are societal issues - it’s not just about individuals. I have no animosity towards the person who broke the door. I don’t want to see them punished, I’d just prefer to see our society look after people.”

Chief inspector Peter Atkins said on Thursday that an investigation is ongoing.

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