Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Idyllic country life turns into nightmare

All Phillipa Garton wanted was a simple country life where she could raise her severely disabled son, Darci (13), in a peaceful environment.

FIONA BLICK July 15, 2014 3:41pm

However, that peace was shattered last Monday evening when heartless thieves broke into her rural property at Burramine and stole more than $5,000 in household electrical items.

What is perhaps more devastating for this family was the theft took place while Darci was in respite care in Shepparton and Phillipa was on a much-needed overnight break.

“These people must have known no one would be at home because I very rarely leave the house,” Phillipa told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“We live on a small, rural road, a fair way out of town so it couldn’t have been an opportunistic crime.

“Due to vehicle tracks around the place it looks as though the thieves have backed a trailer up to the house and just loaded it up with all of my things.”

The thieves made off with a 3D smart television, a fridge/freezer, stereo equipment and a washing machine.

“They also stole an old bread maker, it wouldn’t have even been worth ten dollars, I can’t work it out,” Phillipa said.

“Someone must be setting up their home because they also stole a painting of a Buddha’s face.”

Phillipa said Darci was devastated his television had gone as it was his lifeline to the outside world and part of his education system.

“Darci could do school work, he attends the Cobram Special School, and be interactive with us through this television and now it is gone,” she said.

“The TV was on a rent to buy payment plan and I am going to have to work out what I can do.

“My washing machine was on a similar payment plan through the Salvation Army.

“I desperately needed a bigger machine to accommodate Darci’s growing needs and I was lucky enough to organise this option with the Salvos, but now the washing machine is gone as well.”

Darci suffers from Angelman Syndrome (AS) which is a neuro-genetic disorder characterized by severe intellectual and developmental disability, sleep disturbance, seizures, jerky movements (especially hand-flapping) and frequent laughter or smiling; AS is named after a British pediatrician, Harry Angelman, who first described the syndrome in 1965.

There is currently no cure available.

The epilepsy can be controlled by the use of one or more types of anticonvulsant medications however, there are difficulties as AS is usually associated with having multiple varieties of seizures, rather than just the one as in normal cases of epilepsy.

People with AS tend to develop strong non-verbal skills to compensate for their limited use of speech.

It is widely accepted that their understanding of communication directed to them is much larger than their ability to return conversation and most afflicted people will not develop more than 5–10 words, if any at all.

Phillipa said the only good thing was the thieves did not touch Darci’s bedroom.

“They went through the entire house and up-ended drawers and cupboards; stuff was tipped everywhere, except in Darci’s room,” she said.

“I am a single mum on a carer’s pension and I don’t have any insurance and I am still paying off some of these items.

“I have never had anything stolen before and it is very disappointing.

“I really don’t know how I am going to recover these items.”

Phillipa said she is still in shock by the whole incident.

“I was so upset and cried a little bit, but then I thought about it and realised no one got hurt.

“After this I think we will have to move into town.

“I have been saving up to buy a car which can accommodate Darci and his wheelchair but that money will now have to be used elsewhere.”

Phillipa thanked the Yarrawonga Police for their care and understanding.

“The police were absolutely fantastic and couldn’t have done more for us,” she said.

“If anyone has seen a trailer loaded up with electrical goods I am pleading with you to contact the police.

“All it takes is just one person to have seen something or one person to say something and this horrible situation can be resolved.”

Yarrawonga Police are urging rural residents to be vigilant and keep a look out for unusual vehicles and to immediately report anything suspicious.

Anyone with information on this burglary is asked to contact Yarrawonga Police on 57443641.

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