23 May 2023

Intruder incident sparks warning from victims

| Sarah Martin
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A COOKTOWN couple is warning residents to be vigilant after facing an intruder in their bedroom in a frightening Mother’s Day burglary.

Rob and Michele Browning have been left traumatised by the incident, with about $20,000 worth of jewellery stolen.

“We’ve been married for 35 years, that’s where the jewellery came from, every piece was important and had a story to it,” Mr Browning said.

“It was representative of our marriage.”

The couple had returned to their Power Street home about 7pm after a Mother’s Day picnic and Mr Browning had his key in hand to unlock the front door when he saw a man with a light running through the house.

“I shouted to Michele ‘there’s someone in the house’,” he said.

“I’ve gone inside and foolishly reacted by chasing after him, he leapt over the couch like an antelope and ran into the front bedroom and I’m thinking ‘what are you going to do now’ and again running on pure adrenaline I reacted and chased him.”

The man escaped by leaping through the security screened window he had jacked open.

“Michele went into the bedroom and saw her good jewellery case on the bed, spread out and gutted,” Mr Browning said.

“She had another jewellery box in plain sight, but he didn’t touch that.

“There were car keys there as well. We can only conclude that he hadn’t been inside for a very long time.”

Mr Browning was determined to get his wife’s jewellery back and drove around town looking for the man, spotting him near the service station on Charlotte Street less than an hour later.

Mr Browning spoke to the man a number of times, but he wouldn’t admit to the burglary or show anyone the contents of his backpack.

“I said ‘mate I know you’ve got the jewellery, it’s my wife’s and I just want it back’ and he just started walking away.”

Ms Browning said although they phoned 000 as soon as they realised someone was in the house, no police contacted them or attended on the night.

He went to the Cooktown police station and reported the theft last Monday morning.

Police arrested a 27-year-old Cooktown man a short time later and charged him with the burglary. He was released on bail and is due to appear in court on June 7.

Mr Browning said they had upgraded security to include cameras and other measures since the break-in and were urging others not to be complacent.

“It’s time for everyone to realise we need to secure our houses and cars,” he said.

“A lot of people in Cooktown don’t even close their front doors when they go out and leave the keys in the ignition.

“It’s time to stop doing that or learn the hard way.”

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