Joseph Lanz woke up early Christmas morning to discover thieves had broken in and ransacked his home while he, his wife and children were sleeping and made off with the family’s Christmas presents and other items. CHRIS BUSH/ The News Bulletin

UPDATED: Christmas day break-in a frightening experience for family

Break-in happened at about 3 a.m. Dec. 25 at a home on Stonewater Drive, near Buttertubs Marsh

A Nanaimo family is recovering from the emotional trauma and adding more security to their home after thieves broke in, ransacked the house and made off with gifts, stockings, and other items Christmas morning.

The break-in happened at about 3 a.m. on Dec. 25 at a home on Stonewater Drive, near Buttertubs Marsh.

Joseph Lanz, his wife and boys, ages 10 and 14, were asleep when Lanz awoke to hearing noises from outside the door of their bedroom, located on the main floor of the home next to the living room.

“He quickly got up and found his fridge door open, cupboards ransacked and the front door open. Their gifts, which had been wrapped and placed under their Christmas tree, were gone,” the press release noted.

A neighbour reported seeing two male suspects running in the neighbourhood, but could not provide a description.

The culprits got into the house through a kitchen window, which Lanz and his wife had opened the night before to cool down the room after cooking. They’d closed it again and checked it before they went to bed, but this was the first time they’d forgotten to latch it. He was awakened by a chime on the refrigerator door that sounds when the door is left open.

“The [front] door is about 10 feet from our bedroom door and it was wide open,” Lanz said in an interview Thursday. “I’m like, did I not latch that properly? Did I not lock that at night? … I walked in past the door and all the lights are on. I looked down at the Christmas tree and everything was pretty much gone. The stockings were off the wall and all rummaged through and then I looked into the kitchen and all the drawers were open. The fridge is open. The freezer’s open. At that point in time it clicks in that we’ve been robbed … I have to tell my wife that we’ve just been robbed on Christmas Day.”

Lanz ran upstairs to check on his boys and to make sure no one else was still in the house and then ran outside to see if anyone was outside on the assumption they had just fled a moment before.

“But at three o’clock in the morning [the refrigerator chime] could have been going off for half an hour and you just finally realized that it was going off,” Lanz said.

Lanz said within moments of calling 911, multiple police vehicles were at the house. A RCMP dog team followed a track for about two kilometres until the dog lost the scent somewhere near Third Street.

Police recovered some gifts that were discarded by the theives and brought them back to the family.

“All the kids’ stuff, we scurried to get re-wrapped with whatever we had left on Christmas morning to have somewhat of a Christmas for the kids when they woke up,” Lanz said. “Luckily, you know, after [police] fingerprinted and did all of the dusting on the house and photos and everything, the kids still hadn’t woken up, which is beyond me.”

Police were already gone when the boys woke up and were told what happened. The experience has been frightening for the family and since Christmas Day Lanz said he’s had little sleep and he worries the culprits, who also took the house keys and both sets of his truck keys – one set was recovered, but not the other – will return for the truck.

“I pace the hallways. I pace the window. I look outside, seeing if somebody’s in the neighbourhood,” he said.

Lanz, who has lived in the house with his family since July, has had the locks changed and an alarm system that was supposed to have been installed in the fall by a company he had ordered it from has now been ordered from a competing alarm company.

“It’s been a hell of a week,” Lanz said.

Among the items stolen were two iPhone 10s, Xbox games, gift cards, grey and blue DC loafers, a red Volcom hoodie, a pink and black tie-dyed hoodie with a doughnut logo, and other clothing.

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.

For past coverage of unsolved crimes in Nanaimo, click here.

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