The intruders entered the house in suburban Ainslie in the middle of the night just a few weeks ago.
All the occupants were asleep.
The very odd thing, it was later recalled, was that neither of the family's two dogs barked.
Usually they set off a chorus when anyone other than family members enter the house.
But regardless, the intruders pressed on through the house and into the kitchen, stealing a handbag and keys.
Again, and most unusually, there were potentially other valuables and laptops around which could be stolen but these, apparently, were ignored.
The thieves wanted cash, credit cards - and cars. Once inside, they could have gone deeper into the house, perhaps rummaged through bedside tables looking for jewellery and watches - as many Canberra night burglars have in the past - but perhaps, aware they could be discovered at any time or the dogs alerted, they didn't.
Both the family Toyota Prado and the daughter's much-loved Renault Clio were in the driveway.
The intruders were either stupid, lucky, or both. A key fob for the Prado was hanging on a hook just inside the front door.
But the fob was faulty. If the thieves had attempted to use it, they would have triggered the car alarm.
Instead, they stole a handbag containing the second fob and keys, plus a wallet, credit cards and other keepsakes. The other set of car keys were sitting on a cabinet within easy reach.
In the morning when the family woke up, just after 6am, both cars were gone.
"When I came out of my room I saw my dad on the phone; he was talking to the police," Georgia Trotter said.
ACT Policing describe car theft as opportunist property crime.
But it's a crime which has changed its form in the past decade since keyless vehicle proximity access fobs have become commonplace.
Auto electricians know most modern cars are very difficult for all but the most professional of thieves to "hotwire" and steal. It takes time and skill, neither of which dumb burglars have.
So to steal a car - once just one crime - now usually involves a second and potentially far more physically intimidating aspect: household burglary.
"I haven't slept at all well since the night that it [the burglary] happened," Georgia Trotter said.
"I'm anxious and waking up a lot. Any little noises at night get me on edge and I can't get back to sleep.
"I wouldn't wish this to happen to anyone. It's an awful feeling. You feel vulnerable and it's not right. No one should feel that way in their own house."
The family now triple checks its door locks at night.
Both cars were located more than a week later. The Prado was damaged and the Clio had been clocked up more than 800km on its tripmeter, clearly driven extensively around Canberra's streets without detection.
A decade ago, ACT Policing had a dedicated motor team which dealt with stolen and "re-birthed" cars, as well as dodgy dealers, illegal modifications and other auto-related matters. But now there's no longer the resources for one.
The final three months of 2020 produced the biggest spike in car theft across Canberra for three years. Belconnen and the inner north suffered the worst with 70 cars stolen from each area. There were 59 thefts from Tuggeranong and 51 from Gungahlin. Young recidivist offenders, known to police, were largely responsible.
There were 159 cars stolen across Canberra in December alone last year, the most in one month since December 2018. There were several well-known car thieves active across the territory at the time. In the past few months, the car theft rate has dropped significantly by a third of that total in January and around half in February.
But the statistics spike and fall again as regularly as the opening of a Bimberi prison gate.
The keyless proximity access fob for all modern cars is an oh-so-convenient feature. One button press locks everything as you leave, and the fob's proximity key reopens it just as easily.
Perhaps because it doesn't look like a conventional key, and just a lump of plastic with buttons, it's too easy to forget how important it is and how it needs to be kept very secure.
One near-new Audi TT RS was brazenly stolen late last year from a north-side car service centre, the owner's key fob knicked off a hook inside the office.
Police continually warn Canberrans about keeping their cars' keyless fobs in a secure place, and securing their homes. But that plea goes largely unheeded.
"Until it happens to you, until someone enters your house in the middle of the night, sneaks around and steals your stuff, steals your cars, you never think it will happen to you," Ms Trotter said.
After this unsettling experience, her strong advice to everyone was to think a lot more carefully about home security - and at all hours.
"Check your locks, get a security system, get a security camera and please don't leave your car key fobs just lying around," she said.
"What I learned from this is that most people think their home is safe, that's it's your space. But it's not. You have to make it safe."
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