When Ann and Terry Page went to bed on Christmas Eve last year, they did so filled with excitement about sharing the festive season with their closest family.
However, when they woke up, just five hours later, thieves had ransacked their home and taken Christmas presents and household items worth a total of £26,000.
“I have no way to describe it, other than to say it was a violation,” said 70-year-old Ann, who said she still struggles to sleep following the burglary.
When the theft occurred there were seven people sleeping upstairs, but none heard a sound.
The burglars even pulled the couple’s car off the driveway before driving it away, so as not to risk awakening the family.
Knowing someone was in her house while the entire family were helpless and asleep has disturbed Ann more than the loss of any property.
However, she is still haunted by the memory and said: “I am dreading Christmas this year, really I am.
“Usually I have loads of decorations out but I can’t face it.
“Christmas will never be the same to me. No time is a good time to get robbed, but Christmas morning was just cruel.”
Ann explained one heartbreaking aspect of the theft was that the family had told grandson Nicolai that if he misbehaved Father Christmas would bring him no presents.
Then when the seven-year-old came downstairs on Christmas morning, following the theft, there were no gifts to be found.
Ann said: “He asked ‘have I been a naughty boy Grandma?’”
The thieves took all but one of the presents, even emptying individual sacks of gifts addressed to the children and leaving them empty.
“It was just like an Aladdin’s Cave down here,” said Ann.
In addition to Christmas presents, which included a Nintendo games console, they also took two televisions from the home.
There was also other presents bought for Ann, who celebrated her 70th birthday the following week.
A neighbour later brought over a tin of sweets, so Nicolai did get one treat at Christmas and the thieves had also left the family their turkey, so they were able to have Christmas dinner.
The couple’s 10-month-old Vauxhall Corsa was eventually recovered, but Ann said it took her a long time before she dared to drive it.
She said: “The car was sat on the drive for about three months and I didn’t want to look at it.”
Police believe the thieves entered through the front door and while some of the group ransacked the house, one stood at the foot of the stairs, listening to hear of any movement from the occupants.
Two men were later arrested in connection with the thefts in Middlesbrough.
When the home of one man was searched, a camera taken from the house was found.
Despite struggling to come to terms with the invasion of privacy, Ann said she will not let the thieves drive her out of the home where she has lived for over 30 years.
In the hope of again feeling safe in their home, the couple have added extra security measures and changed all the locks, but say they will still be nervous when Christmas Eve comes.