David Campbell: ‘Someone was in the house’

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“Someone is in the house” was not what I was expecting my wife to say to me while I was stranded in LA, having missed my connecting flight by 30 minutes.

I could feel the panic hit me like an earthquake as I checked my phone.

It was 9.15am in Los Angeles. Which meant she was calling me at 2.15am Sydney time. Lisa and our three kids were not alone.

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It’s hard to describe the amount of adrenaline and feeling of hopelessness that were battling for supremacy in my stomach at hearing those five words.

media_camera“Lisa and our three kids were not alone.” (Photography: Steven Chee for Stellar)

We had moved house six months prior. Other places we lived in had old alarm systems with codes that were long forgotten or never handed over, so we never used them. Besides, we were in the ’burbs now, not the city.

So when speaking to a security guy, I’ll admit I shuffled my feet a bit at the thought of putting an alarm in the house. We’d never needed to use one before. But he was very persuasive.

“Mate, you don’t want to be in your bedroom and someone is there. POP. You have no time to react.”

His tone reminded me of a retired special forces guy in a TV movie. “So when I put this system in, get used to arming certain areas when you go to bed.”

“All right, all right,” I said and we practised arming our new alarm.

So here is what happened. At 2.13, the beeping started. Lisa woke thinking it was a watch alarm.

media_cameraCampbell was terrified after his wife called to say there was an intruder in their home. (Photography: Steven Chee for Stellar)
media_cameraA convert to home security… (Photography: Steven Chee for Stellar)

On realising it was the house alarm about to go off, she raced to disarm it before it woke the kids.

It sounded a few loud whoops when she put in the code, and then she heard the sneakers squeaking. More than one set.

Lisa started yelling, “Get out of my house!” Thankfully, they ran.

She dialled triple zero and then called me. Within minutes of being on the phone to me, the police showed up.

It seemed there were a few disturbances that night, which they believed was a group of young teenage boys. Maybe six. They were trying doors all over the quiet neighbourhood and got lucky with a side door we hadn’t checked in months.

It could have been so much worse. We were lucky. It was random and they got scared. Lisa and the alarm scared them off. But I keep coming back to what could have been…

I was (of course) relieved everyone was safe. The police were amazing in this situation, putting my wife at ease.

Part of me was glad I’d missed my flight, which meant when it happened I wasn’t on a plane for another eight hours with no way of Lisa contacting me.

media_cameraDavid Campbell’s column is in Stellar this Sunday.

Most of all? We were using the alarm — and it worked! The amount of people we have told this story to who have alarms but never use them is, well, most of them.

It’s human nature to become complacent with your home. You feel safe. At my work, we literally report on burglaries every day. You never think it can happen to you. Then it does and it’s too late.

So I want to thank my security guy, who made me nervous enough to listen to his sales pitch. He was so right.

My family is safe. The system worked.

Now we are getting a dog.

David co-hosts Today Extra, 9am Monday — Wednesday, and Weekend Today, 7am weekends, on the Nine Network.

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