Arrests have been made following the trashing of a Waihi home while the grieving residents were overseas.
Four youngsters, aged between 11 and 15, were arrested after breaking into the Lovell family home and trashing it.
Tina and Simon Lovell and their five children had gone to Fiji to escape a trying year during which the family had lost three loved ones. When they returned home, nail polish, eggs, sauces and oils had been smeared across walls, bedding and clothing while the contents of every drawer, wardrobe and cupboard were strewn through the house and offensive messages written on walls.
Mrs Lovell said she was pleased people would be held accountable. "It's really good that they caught the little buggers. I'd like to see something done to them instead of a little slap on the wrist. My family are still suffering."
Other damage to the home included flour burned in the microwave, a large hole made in the lounge wall and sofas and paintings slashed with a knife. The fridge and freezer had been left open with the contents starting to decay, releasing a stench throughout the house.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />
Mrs Lovell said her children had been severely upset by the break in. "I've got an 11-year-old who is pretty shaken up by it; a 3-year-old who has had to be put into nappies after potty training for the last 18 months. We have a 5-year-old who is crying and clinging to me.
"We have just gone so many steps backwards. They were happy-go-lucky kids. I could leave them with people they didn't know, not a problem at all."
The Lovells were still living out of the suitcases they used in Fiji, and had not been able to return to their home yet as it has needed re-painting. "It's pretty horrific. The dollar value is one thing but the emotional value is a lot larger. It will take a long time before we are back to normality."
Waihi police Senior Sergeant Rex Knight said neighbours alerted police to the burglary.
Mr Knight said media coverage of the burglary had created a sense of revulsion in the community towards those responsible and it wasn't long before police were following strong leads.
"As a result of this support and some excellent investigative work officers carried out searches of five Waihi properties on Monday, resulting in the arrest of one 15-year-old male who has been charged with burglary and intentional damage and he will appear in the Waihi Youth Court [today]. In addition three Waihi boys - aged 13, 12 and 11 years old - were arrested and referred to Youth Aid for follow-up action, while further enquiries into the involvement of another male are continuing."