When Melissa Rodrigues’s son kept telling her about a mysterious man outside his window holding a light at night, she dismissed it at nightmares.
But there was something far more sinister going on.
Things came to a head one night when the three-year-old woke his parents screaming.
Rodrigues told Stuff.co.nz: "At 5.30 in the morning he let out an absolutely gut-wrenching scream from his room.
"I knew something wasn't right."
When the youngster led his father outside, they discovered footprints in the frost and the garden gate wide open.
A toolbox and some extension cords had also gone missing from the home in Waikanae, north of Wellington, New Zealand.
Determined to find out what was going on, the Rodrigues family set up a trap using an app which turned an old smartphone into a motion-sensing security camera that would email them any pictures it captured.
Packing their son off to his grandmother’s, they setup camp in the living room and, sure enough, at 4.40am pictures began to appear in their inbox.
The images left them speechless.
There was the torch-wielding man.
Rodrigues told Stuff.co.nz: "It gave me the shock of a lifetime because, even though I was waiting for it, I wasn't expecting to see him.”
The family called the police, who immediately attended the scene.
Following the incident, a 15-year-old was referred to youth services.
Senior Sergeant Anita Dixon said: "This incident was able to be sorted out very quickly, thanks to the excellent information supplied by the family, and the police working quickly, together with the help of the mobile phone app."Suggest a correction