An Oxnard family who returned home after visiting relatives in Ohio for Christmas discovered that burglars had set up residence in their house before disappearing with belongings worth $70,000, police reported Thursday.
Besides stealing the family's car, electronic equipment and refrigerator, the intruders helped themselves to most of the food in the pantry, leaving stacks of dirty dishes and empty beer cans.
Burdette and Amanda Starcher, petty officers at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Port Hueneme, and their 1-year-old daughter had been gone for nine days. When they arrived at their rented duplex on Norma Street at 7 p.m. Monday, they immediately realized that something was wrong.
"As soon as I walked inside I was more or less in shock," Amanda Starcher said. "I went to call the police, but both phones had been stolen."
The thieves had covered the windows with heavy blankets to prevent neighbors from seeing that the supposedly vacant residence was occupied while the couple was away, she said.
Missing items included children's furniture, a washer and dryer, a microwave oven, a television, a stereo, light bulbs and the couple's nearly new sedan.