It was the sound of the dog barking in the early hours of Friday morning that alerted a Brown Hill family to thieves stealing a trailer and tools.
Jason Tinetti, 40, a self-employed carpenter, said the items were his livelihood and couldn’t work without them.
He attempted to stop the thieves but was blinded by a torch light in his eyes as they escaped.
“They took off and screamed down the road,” he said. “The car had no headlights. We got our car keys and tried to follow them but they were gone.”
After calling the police, the trailer was found four hours later in Bergs Lane, Mount Helen with some of the tools left inside.
“They might have got disturbed before they finished emptying the trailer out,” Mr Tinetti said.
However he estimated $20,000 worth of tools were still missing including hand tools, nail guns, angle grinders and concrete nailers.
His wife Angela, 39, said the incident had taken more than just a financial toll.
“It’s that gut-wrenching feeling,” she said. “They (the perpetrators) don’t think about what happens as far as the stress and having two young children who are up from 2.30 in the morning not sleeping and worried.”
Despite the trailer being locked at the time, the thieves had been able to force open the door.
The couple were now looking into more security such as an additional locking device and installing a GPS tracking system.
They urged the public to avoid complacency and take extra precautions “to save a great deal of heartache”.
Crime Statistics Agency data showed a 10 per cent increase in thefts in Ballarat from last year.
“They (the perpetrators) need more than a slap on the wrist as they just get away with it a little too easy,” Mr Tinetti said. “Then they’re back out doing it again, which is the worst part.”
But the couple said the experience had brought out the best in people. Eureka Trailers fixed the damaged vehicle for only the price of a new lock and the couple had received offers of tools from those they had never met.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police.