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On Sunday morning in Orange, as this family slept, their house was robbed and their car stolen

Elie, Sam, Payten and Kim on Tuesday morning. The thief or thieves gained entry through the locked sliding door behind them. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

February 14, 2023

By Peter Holmes

An Orange mum with young children said her body went “cold” when she realised one or more thieves had been inside their house on Sunday morning as the family slept.

Sam lives in a rental property on Kearneys Drive north of the CBD with her partner Luke and children Kim, 10, Elie, 9, and Payten, 2. Kearneys Drive runs from Margaret Street near Perry Oval north to Botanic Way near the botanic gardens.

Luke was up late on Saturday night into Sunday morning, as toddler Payten was struggling to sleep. He went to bed at 3:30am Sunday.

At 8am Kim came into Sam and Luke’s bedroom to ask who had left the back sliding door open.

Sam told The Orange News Examiner: “I said it must have been Luke, because when I went to bed I made sure I locked it. Luke said, ‘It wasn’t me’. Kim said, ‘I think someone’s been in the house’. We shrugged him off and said, 'No one’s been in the house'.

“Then we went out [into the living room] and it didn’t even click straight away. Luke was looking for his phone, because Payten likes to pick things up and hide them. Kim kept saying ‘Mum I think someone’s come in and stolen the phone’, but we said, ‘Mate if someone’s going to break in, they're not just going to steal a phone and leave’.”

The family has three cars, and on the morning of the robbery one had been parked on the street, one in the driveway and one - a blue 2015 Skoda Octavia that had been paid off last year - on the front lawn.

“Luke went out the front and said, ‘Shit, the Skoda’s missing’. Then we realised his iPad, which had been charging in the kitchen, and his phone, which was on the lounge, were both missing.”

The keys to the Skoda had been on the kitchen bench.

A call was made to Orange police, and Sam said officers arrived after half an hour.

“They told us not to touch the back door until fingerprints were taken,” Sam said.

Detectives dusted for prints on Monday.

Sam believed that the screen door to the backyard had been left unlocked, which meant the thief or thieves had to break into a sturdy, locked sliding door to gain entry to the house. She said the lock to the sliding door had been damaged in the robbery, and thought that a screwdriver or some other implement may have been used to get it open.

Entry to the backyard was likely via a side gate.

While Luke and Sam slept in a bedroom 10 to 15 metres down the hallway from the entry point in the living room, Payten was across the hallway from their room. Closest to the entry point were Kim and Elie, who were sharing a room that runs off the living room.

“I felt cold, I was in shock,” Sam said “I felt sick. People are in my house while I’m asleep. That’s not OK.

“It’s one thing to come and rob someone’s house when they’re at work or out doing something, but to come in while you’re asleep and your kids are asleep - it’s not a nice feeling.”

Sam said she was relieved Kim or Elie didn’t wake up during the robbery.

“Luke was upset [about the robbery] because the kids were asleep,” she said. “Money doesn’t matter to us, it’s all replaceable. My daughter is nine. What if she had come [out] while they were here? What would they do if they saw you? Thank god they were asleep.”

Sam has been sent CCTV and dash cam footage of a group of four people wandering the streets near her house about 4:35am Sunday.

The house’s security is being upgraded by the real estate agency looking after the rental.

Sam said Luke’s wallet had been handed in to Orange Police Station. All his cards were in the wallet, but $100 cash had been stolen.

Chief inspector Peter Atkins told The Orange News Examiner he was unable to comment specifically on a particular incident, but confirmed that a blue Skoda had been reported stolen in Orange on Sunday morning. It was one of three cars reported stolen.

He said police were investigating “a number of break and enters that night” and were still seeking the three stolen vehicles.

“We encourage people to report any suspicious behaviour and make sure you lock your cars and premises,” he said. “Thieves are opportunistic.”

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