LAUDERDALE LAKES (CBS4) – Residents in Lauderdale Lakes are being warned to be on alert for burglars. Investigators with the Broward Sheriff’s Office said they’ve seen home break-ins skyrocket by 35% since the beginning of last year and the trend is continuing.

The Roya family learned that the hard way.

It wasn’t supposed to be a quiet Christmas for the family of 8. Scott Roya bought lots of presents to put under the tree for his 6 kids but burglars got to them first.

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“We didn’t even spend Christmas here because there was no reason to be thankful or happy,” he told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “If it wasn’t for our family members getting the kids gifts, they wouldn’t have had no Christmas.”

On Sunday, December 5, the Roya family went to a relative’s home for dinner and a relaxing afternoon watching football.

When they returned home, they found their home ransacked and closets and drawers emptied.

Thieves stole a flat screen tv, an Apple computer, a Wii, an xbox and several handheld video game systems. The thieves also took dozens of video games and cleaned out an entertainment unit in the area dubbed “Game Central” for the kids. Residue coats the side of the entertainment unit — evidence that a detective dusted for fingerprints.

Scott said there are more items that and his wife put aside for the kids for Christmas that were stolen from a closet in their bedroom.

“The other things I don’t want to mention because we never got a chance to give them to the kids,” he said.

Cathy Roya said she is devastated.

“I don’t want to think about it too much,” she said. “Just why? What’s the purpose? It’s not like we go into someone else’s house and do it.”

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Investigators said during the crime spree, burglars usually break in through a back window after knocking on the front door to make sure no one is home.

Detectives arrested a few suspected burglars last month in Lauderdale Lakes but they believe there are multiple burglars carrying out these crimes.

For Scott and Kathy Roya they were forced to explain to their children why they couldn’t have the Christmas they planned and why so many of their toys and games disappeared.

“We told them that there’s bad people in the world and they don’t care for nobody but themselves,” Scott said. “If the people that did break into my house are listening or happen to see this, I’ll pray for you and hope you change your ways.”

BSO is recommending that when residents leave their home, they should turn on a television or radio to give the impression that someone is home.

They are also asking for residents to report any suspicious activity to the BSO District Office in Lauderdale Lakes at (954) 497-1646.

The crime wave comes at a difficult time for the city of Lauderdale Lakes.

The city is in the midst of a budget crisis and, according to BSO, owes them several million dollars for law enforcement services.

A BSO spokesperson tells me, as a result, the agency has cut back on detectives and support staff working in the city and BSO acknowledges they have fewer resources in Lauderdale Lakes.

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However, BSO says they same amount of road patrol deputies working in the city as before the budget crisis.