A Nanaimo, B.C., family is still in shock after returning home from a three-week vacation to find their home had been broken into and lived in while they were away.
After spending the past three weeks in Yukon with relatives, Allison Greenway, her husband and their four children returned home, where their post-vacation happiness quickly turned into a living nightmare.
"Nothing was where we left it," she said. "The windows were all boarded up and he had torn up all our blankets and curtains to cover everything. A lot of the kids' toys were buried in the yard and hanging from the trees. It was really unsettling."
Having their home broken into and trashed was bad enough, but the Greenways soon discovered someone had been living in it while they were on vacation. Many valuables including electronics and jewellery were gone and unusual items were destroyed.
"Silly things, like they ripped the voice box out of their build-a-bears. They tore our marriage certificate in two. They had taken all our family photos off the wall and placed them down. It is just so uncomfortable," said Greenway.
The rest of the day was spent cleaning the house and salvaging what they could with the help of friends, family and acquaintances.
Feeling traumatized by the experience, the family decided to spend Sunday at a nearby hotel and left their home at 3:30 p.m. Greenway said her husband decided to check on the home at 8:30 p.m., which is when he discovered someone was inside.
Home invaded again
Her husband called Nanaimo RCMP.
"He noticed that someone had already started boarding up the windows again and had moved the microwave into the living room," Greenway said.
When police arrived, they could see the bathroom light on and someone walking around in the house. A police dog was brought in, and officers ended up knocking the front door down.
"They ended up pulling this guy out of our kid's closet," said Greenway. "It was bad enough the first day when we had come home and found like 10 years of our lives just ruined, but he was in our kids' beds. Like, who does that?"
40-year-old Sean Kulai, of no fixed address, has been charged with one count of break and enter. His next court appearance is Sept. 15.
Nanaimo RCMP Const. Gary O'Brien said the suspect is known to police and has a history of violence, but they don't believe he poses any further risk to the family.
"A male was taken into custody. He received a few bite wounds [from the police dog]," said O'Brien.
Police can't definitively say whether the same man was living in the home for three weeks.
O'Brien said there may have been one other person involved, but they aren't looking at pursuing charges against that person at this time.
The Greenways did not have a security system installed in their home and had not told neighbours they were gone.
"I just assumed the neighbours thought we had left, because our vacation was so long," said Greenway.
O'Brien said that while security systems can be breached, "The best security is having neighbours looking after your home. That is the best."
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe to help with the cost of installing a new security system and replacing what the family has lost, as well as helping pay for meals and hotel stays.
With files from Kendall Hanson, Nicholas Pescod and CHEK News
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