'I was just scared of everybody': Victim of Vernon break-in lost more than possessions | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'I was just scared of everybody': Victim of Vernon break-in lost more than possessions

Porshia and Brennon Schultz, with their baby daughter.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK:Porshia Schultz
August 28, 2020 - 7:00 AM

In the spring of 2017, Porshia Schultz was very pregnant and working hard in the kitchen stocking the freezer with food in preparation for returning home with her first baby.

Her baby girl was born March 30, but when her husband Brennon Schultz returned from the hospital after a few days with no sleep he discovered their home had been ransacked.

"The door had been kicked in, all of our food was gone... our wedding rings, all of my jewelry from growing up... everything was missing," Porshia said. "I broke down, it was hard, and it was violating, it was so, so violating."

Six months later, Andrew Robert Pigott was arrested and charged for the break-in. To add insult to injury, Pigott and his partner, along with their two children, lived in the basement below the Schultzes.

"We chit-chatted once in a while... I made them cookies at Christmas and gave them a Christmas card," Porshia said. She even got a Christmas card back.

But Pigott and his partner clearly knew their upstairs neighbours were at the hospital having their first child. Porshia's dad had had a casual conversation with them and they'd asked how the baby was doing.

The couple lost $6,000 of wedding rings, passports, birth certificatesds and other identification documents. In the months that followed the burglary, they noticed other items missing, including clothing and sports equipment.

Porshia didn't have the easiest birth and ended up having an emergency C-section and was left with a fractured hip. She was in hospital for some time so Brennon hadn't been home for a few days before he returned home to find their house trashed. He cleaned up the best he could, headed back to the hospital and kept his mouth shut.

"They didn't tell me what happened, they didn't want to," Porshia said.

She arrived home from the hospital and was told the news. It hit her really hard.

"I really just wanted to take my baby and leave," she said.

Pigott pleaded guilty to the break-in, along with an armed robbery in which he threatened to shoot a Cash Stop Loans employee and another robbery at Subway where he pepper-sprayed two staff members after he stole $150 from the till. On Aug. 24 he was sentenced to six-and-a-half years jail. During the sentencing, the court heard how Pigott had trashed a crib and the area set aside for the new baby, however, that wasn't true. Porshia says the newly decorated nursery was the one room that wasn't touched.

READ MORE: Vernon's 'Mission Impossible' robber gets an assist to get his life together

Porshia does however suspect the family may have stayed in her home a few days. There were dirty dishes lying around and a DVD in the DVD player. She desperately wanted to move and they began frantically looking for somewhere new to live.

Losing the jewelry and having the house trashed was one thing, but something more dramatic had changed inside of her. She had begun to feel scared.

The shoddy property management company hadn't fixed the door properly and she pushed furniture in front of it after Brennon went to work.

"Every day I left like a sitting duck with my baby because I couldn't leave the house," she said. "I was so scared."

Porshia had her suspicions it may have been her downstairs neighbours but wasn't going to confront them.

"They brought us a baby gift... they were very friendly with us which made it weird," she said.

One day she saw Pigott outside punching their truck and pacing around. But Porshia says she was too scared to call the police.

"I could barely move," she said. "It was scary, it was stressful, every day I was there I was terrified."

What should have been a beautiful time with her newborn daughter had become a nightmare.

It felt like a very long time, and affordable rental properties are scarce in Vernon, but four weeks later the couple and their new baby daughter moved. It was a basement and a single dad lived upstairs.

"I was terrified of him, I wouldn't even talk to him or look at him or anything," Porshia said. "I was just scared of everybody."

As a licenced practical nurse, Porshia says she's used to working with all types of people from all walks of life. She described herself as open and easy-going.

But the break-in was traumatic and something had changed.

"I was actually a bit scared of men."

She told her story a few times to friends and colleagues but says people would often then share their experience of how they once had something stolen from their gym locker or their car.

"It undermines how I was feeling, it almost felt like it was not that big," she said.

But to her it was big, she felt incredibly violated.

"To me, it wasn't the stuff, it sucks that I don't have a big diamond engagement ring... but it wasn't about that," she said.

Plans to go to Las Vegas for her dad's 50 birthday had to be cancelled as Porshia and Brennon were still waiting on their new passports. The family all went camping instead. The passports arrived two-and-a-half-years later, an experience she said was like "rubbing salt into the wound."

While Pigott was sentenced to six-and-a-half-years, after spending three years in custody, he will spend another two years, less a day behind bars. The sentence was purposely given so he can continue to get his professional welding ticket.

"I don't think (the sentence) validates how I felt about it," Porshia says.

Although she was given the option to submit a victim impact statement, at the time she says she couldn't stomach it. Luckily, things have now changed.

As soon as they moved, Porshia started getting counselling.

"For me, I had to find help, I had to find a counsellor because I had to address how I was feeling about other people because I knew that that was not a normal way to feel about other people," she said. "Especially because they were people who did absolutely nothing to me but I had those feelings."

Being a medical professional, she says she could recognize that she needed help and navigate the system to get it.

"People don't actually know how to go about finding help, because it's not as easy... as googling 'counsellor,'" she says.

She encourages people who are victims of crime to seek help and stresses it's not a weakness.

"You can't let something like that affect you for the rest of your life... it's very debilitating," she adds.

Porshia and Brennon have since worked and budgeted hard and bought a house in Enderby and had another child. Porshia credits her family as one of the reasons she was so determined to push through her fear. She and Brennon also became good friends with the single dad who lived upstairs when they moved — someone she was once scared of.

"Horrible stuff happens to everybody and we need to address it, validate it, and move forward because we only have one life to live," she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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