A couple whose prized car was stolen after a thief broke into their Helston home while they and their young granddaughter slept have spoken of feeling "violated."

Fran Phillips said she had scrubbed their house in the St Johns area "with bleach" after the break in, which resulted in the loss of her partner David Hickey's rare metallic cream Jaguar FX SV8 - one of only 160 ever made.

To add even further pain for the family, the theft on Tuesday last week subsequently prevented their granddaughter from saying goodbye to her great-grandfather before he died, as they had no transport in which to rush her to Coventry in time.

Describing the Jaguar as her partner's "pride and joy," Fran, who works in fuel station of Helston Sainsbury's, said: "It's quite devastating, that he's been violated. It's like a personal assault."

And of the break in she added: "We were in bed. My granddaughter was here, which is more upsetting. She's only eight. If she'd come down I don't know what would have happened.

"It's been a nightmare. After the police had gone I spent the morning bleaching everything, because you have got someone uninvited in the property. We do feel violated. It's just awful."

The thief is thought to have broken in through a shut groundfloor window of the house and then taken not only the keys to the Jaguar but also the keys to Fran's Kia. It has meant she has been without transport for a week also and unable to take out her 93-year-old mother, who has the early stages of dementia and for whom she is sole carer.

In a further painful twist, just days after the theft the father of Fran's ex-husband suffered a major stroke and subsequently passed away before their granddaughter could say goodbye.

"We couldn't even get her to see him before he went," she said.

Fran has, however, thanked the power of social media for the support she and David, who works for Winfreys of Helston, received in their attempts to track down their car.

Her Facebook post was shared 18,000 times and she was inundated with messages to say the car had allegedly been seen in Illogan, Redruth and Camborne.

It is understood that the car was ultimately brought back to the Helston area the following day and was spotted by police, who gave chase through the town before arresting the driver.

Fran and David has been told there is damage to the front and side of the car after it drove over a low wall, but until it has been released by the police forensic team and inspected by the insurers they do not know to what extent and if it will be repairable.

Fran said that without Facebook, however, "I don't think it would have happened," adding that people had been out searching for it.

"It's wonderful the support that has been given by everyone on Facebook. Rather than all the negativity you get on social media, it's very positive that they could help - and they did help. They gave support at a time that was very stressful," she added.

Fran said she hoped the police would have enough evidence to prosecute, adding: "Anyone that wants to take something that people have worked all their lives for deserves the book thrown at them. He's not only taken a car, he's ruined lives; he's taken away precious moments that cannot be got back."