Couple finds hope in 'nightmare' home invasion
A COUPLE traumatised and forever changed by a violent home invasion have taken action with hopes none of their neighbours ever experience their pain.
Roger and Lea Garner were in bed when a man stood lookout as three thugs used a crowbar to open their locked security screen, kicked down the door and stole $20,000 of irreplaceable valuables.
Mrs Garner recalled she and her husband awoke about 11.20pm to a loud bang on March 10. By the time the pair got to the bedroom door, Mrs Garner said three hooded men stood over them and repeatedly demanded "Where's your f--king gold? Where's your f--king money?".
She said they punched Mr Garner in the face and ransacked the room.
Once the men fled the Garners called the police who arrived within four minutes.
Mrs Garner said officers immediately tracked her husband's phone, but the police dog lost the offenders' trace down the street where it is believed they had parked a getaway car.
The couple has undergone counselling and were unable to sleep in their home for about two months.
But now, they are determined to draw a positive from their nightmare ordeal and have teamed up with Glass House MP Andrew Powell in a push to expand the Glasshouse Country Neighbourhood Watch, which operates from Beerwah.
Mr Powell offered his help the day after the invasion, and printed 500 fliers to promote a community barbecue and information session he hosted yesterday with the help of Neighbourhood Watch representatives.
Interested people attended to show their support and learn more about how to remain safe while they looked out for their community.
Mr Powell explained, despite the name, the existing Glasshouse Country Neighbourhood Watch did not cover his electorate.
He said the organisation was based on the premise neighbours are the "first line of defence", and to report anything suspicious to police.
"They share ideas around crime prevention, what you can do as a home owner and resident to make sure a house, its belongings and your car are safe," Mr Powell said.
"They interact on a positive basis with the local police service, share information about crime, what can be done to again mitigate or prevent it."
Mrs Garner encouraged people to report any strange activity, and call their neighbours if they feared something was wrong. She said the six-minute invasion she experienced had a lasting impact, and months later could not shake the feeling of fear and violation in her own home.
The offenders were captured on CCTV but are yet to be caught.
Mrs Garner said they stole her husband's wedding rings, a diamond-encrusted signet ring, two watches and one of two golden chains the couple bought each other for their 40th wedding anniversary. Mrs Garner's chain had been taken in a separate robbery at the same home nine years ago.
This time, thieves took her handbag and all but a few items of jewellery.