Christmas is normally a time of joy but for one New Plymouth family, Christmas 2020 turned into a nightmare.
Kama Antrobus, her flatmate Jacob Smith, and her two boys Riley, 9, and Elijah, 12, had spent Christmas in Kaitaia.
Kama says when they returned to their home in Motorua on Boxing Day, December 26, their joy immediately disappeared.
Kama says the family immediately knew something bad had happened.
"Riley ran up to the front door and said 'it's wide open'."
Realising they had been burgled, the family rushed inside. Kama says the intruders had taken Elijah's Xbox, a computer, and even food from the pantry.
"My first thought was 'are you kidding me'. To have this happen is just a big kick in the guts. We called the police immediately."
However the worst was yet to come and the worry about the missing items was replaced with worry about their family pets.
The family noticed their pets had also suffered in the burglary.
Kama says after noticing the missing items her family found Tin Tin, one of her 7-week-old kittens, dead and the other two, Garfield and Booge, acting strangely and in pain. She suspects the intruders stood on the kittens.
"They weren't walking right, they wouldn't eat, and they were screaming and having seizures. We tried to get to the vets but they were closed. We called the vets and they said it sounded like the kittens had been stood on. The kittens died over the next few days. Thankfully the mother cat, Nala is still alive. The sad thing is that she had a surgery to be fixed a week before this happened."
Kama says her neighbours saw a silver station wagon at the property on Christmas Day in the afternoon.
"We passed this information onto the police."
She says a month later the family are still struggling with the trauma from the event.
"It was very hard for the kids. They love animals and it was hard having to bury our pets. The items stolen had a massive impact as well as the Xbox was just paid off. It's not fair."
Every time the family is in the house it feels 'gloomy', she says.
"It's like this big black cloud is lingering over us. It's hard to escape from as the memory keeps playing over in my head and to see the look of sadness in my kids' eyes is the worst. I just can't believe this happened to us."
A police spokesperson confirms police received a report of the burglary in the evening of December 26.
"We can also confirm the caller's concern for some animals at the property."
The incident is still under investigation and the spokesperson confirms the public have no need to worry.
"It doesn't appear that there is any particularly local trend of this or any particular increase in burglaries," the spokesperson says.
Kama is currently looking for a new place to live.
"We don't feel safe in this house anymore, we're wanting to start over and find somewhere else. Home is where you are meant to feel safe but that was taken away from us."