AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — As if their life were not difficult enough, the Stapleton family of Aurora came home to find their house looted – allegedly by people they thought were their friends.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Marsett reports, the Chicago Sun-Times says Mike Stapleton of Aurora already had heart surgery in 2007, and two years later he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Complications from radiation treatment left him on disability.

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As if that weren’t enough, Stapleton’s wife, Susan Kendall, lost her job – and so did their daughter and son in law, the Sun-Times reported. The daughter, son-in-law and their four kids moved into mom and dad’s house.

But that didn’t work out, and they had to arrange to turn their two-story brick home over the bank, the newspaper reported.

They all moved to Topeka, Kan., when Kendall found a job with the YWCA. They took what they could in the first trip, and returned for the rest of their belongings, the Sun-Times reported.

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But after the Stapletons left, their already devastating situation got even worse. Some neighbors and friends thought the Stapeltons were not coming back to the Aurora house, and they came inside and took everything the family had left behind, the Sun-Times reported.

The neighbors entered the house without permission, and took about $3,000 worth of property from the house, including Stapleton’s lawnmower, hedge trimmer, and other gardening implements, the Sun-Times reported.

The neighbors even took personal items of sentimental value such as family photos and heirlooms, the Sun-Times reported.

Aurora Ald. Rick Lawrence (4th) said he was called by a neighbor about the trash left behind, the Sun-Times reported. The neighbor wanted the house cleaned up.

Lawrence said he was inside the house shortly after the neighbors had picked over and taken many of the items, the Sun-Times reported.

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But Stapleton tells the newspaper the air conditioning was still on and the utilities were still in the family’s name, and they would never have abandoned the house with everything inside. He told the paper that no one had a right to barge into the house and take anything he or she wanted.