It is many people's worst nightmare - waking at 4am to find someone rummaging through your home, going through your personal belongings.
But for 75-year-old Peter Loveday of North Nowra, the situation was about to go from bad to worse.
When the thief fled the home after being discovered early on Monday, November 14, he took thousands of dollars of jewellery that belonged to Mr Loveday's wife of 50 years, Lyn.
She died just six weeks before the break-in, following a three-year battle with ovarian cancer.
A devastated Mr Loveday said he was just starting to get over his wife's death when the break-in occurred.
"I was just starting to come good a little bit about Lyn, accepting that everybody has to die, that's just the way it is, but it's so hard," he said
And now, "I feel like I've let her down".
Some of the items stolen in the robbery including a chainsaw and pressure washer were found a few hours later in nearby bushland, hidden under a pile of leaves.
They were taken away for forensic testing, while police also checked for evidence in the home and every room the thief visited.
That included the main bedroom where Mr Loveday was sleeping, but that did not stop the thief checking bedside drawers and emptying out the jewellery box.
Mr Loveday said the was in a state of shock following the robbery - unable to sleep with his nerves on edge.
"All night I'm out, walking through the house, even though I've got the place locked up like Fort Knox," he said,
"I'm jumping at everything - I never used to be like that. I wander round at night looking in the wardrobes in the back room. It just seems like it's never going to end.
"A bird tapped on the window this morning and I crapped myself."
But Mr Loveday feared it could have been much worse.
Among the items taken from his garage was a meat cleaver - hailing back to Mr Loveday's time working as a butcher.
That was sitting on the lounge when Mr Loveday disturbed the thief, yelling at him to "Get out of my house!"
But the thief, described as being about 180cm tall and of thin build, wearing dark clothing, a black hoodie and facial covering, ran towards where the machete was located, before Mr Loveday stepped around a corner and the thief turned around and fled through a back door and a back gate into bushland.
Mr Loveday said he thought the thief was heading towards the meat cleaver.
He found the cleaver when the lights were switched on. He also found all his alcohol bottles lined up on a bench ready to be taken, and his wallet open on a bench.
All the cash was taken from the wallet, and the thief had been photographing Mr Loveday's credit cards when he was disturbed.
Those cards were cancelled immediately.
While Mr Loveday has upgraded security at his home since the incident, he has also made plans to sell the home and leave the region.
After years of battling heart problems, he questioned whether he would be able to survive the shock and trauma of another break-in.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.