A Calgary family returned home from camping to find their home had been robbed and vandalized, and a precious keepsake was gone.

Jason Connor’s family came home on Saturday from an Easter weekend camping trip to a scene of devastation inside their home.

“The offenders had broken in through a basement window and then gone through most of the house, created a significant amount of damage, and stole about $80,000 worth of property, everything from electronics to jewellery to even some food items,” said Insp. Keith Cain, Calgary Police Service.

There are muddy footprints everywhere and the list of items stolen is extensive, even including toiletries. But the most important item was locked inside a safe that the thieves smashed their way into: a necklace that belonged to the homeowner's brother, Kevin Connor. The 18-year-old was killed in 2003 when he was hit by a car. A picture of Jason Connor's late father was also taken.

A family friend is helping the Connors through this difficult time by collecting donations.

“Groceries, dishes, several people have asked where they can drop off different belongings,” said Terra Rayner. “So I have been collecting them and dropping them off for the family,”

The Connors are renters and moved in a couple of months ago. They didn't have tenant insurance yet, but some stolen tools maybe covered through work insurance.

Police say there are things people can do to reduce the chance of being a victim of a break in.

“It’s the basics, certainly keep your home locked, good lighting is really important, and motion detector lighting in the back yard is valuable, put bars on your basement windows, let a neighbor know if you are gone, have them check your house," said Insp. Cain.

Police say the number of break-ins has fallen in the last few months, after spiking in 2015, but increased vigilance will help bring the numbers down even further.