Kyle Richards is still mourning the loss of some of her most treasured family items after they were stolen in a headline-making burglary, though her No. 1 priority is making sure something like this never happens again to the ones she loves.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, who turns 49 on Thursday, broke her silence exclusively to PEOPLE on Tuesday about the break-in — in which more than $1 million dollars in jewelry and handbags (including $150,000 worth of watches owned by husband Mauricio Umansky) were snatched from her new Encino, California, property as she and her family vacationed in Aspen, Colorado over the New Year.
“Everything was taken,” Richards says. “Everything my mother, who passed away, had ever collected and saved to give to me — that I had always envisioned of passing on to my four daughters — was gone. Even my children’s baby bracelets. Obviously those are the things that hurt the most, things that I can’t replace. They’re completely invaluable.”
“The material things, yes they can be replaced, but they also hurt,” she continued. “I feel embarrassed to say that, but those are things that were either given to me by someone that I care about or that I worked really hard for. So it hurts no matter what.”
Richards says she had just arrived in Aspen the day prior when she and Umansky were woken by an alert on their phones saying someone was in in their closet at 1:15 a.m. Her immediate thought was disbelief.
“I said, ‘It must be something faulty with the app,’ ” Richards remembers. “We’ve got very tall gates on the house, a state-of-the-art home security system, and my housekeeper was sleeping there at the time. I thought. ‘I don’t believe that, that’s not possible.’”
Then, Richards saw pictures of the break-in. “I was just devastated,” she says. “To think someone came in your home and ransacked something like that? It’s unspeakable.”
It turns out, the alarms in the house were not armed at the time of the robbery due to a missing panel from the installation, rendering the app Richards and Umansky were using to activate the system from a distance ineffective. The alert they received was triggered by a motion sensor. A broken window was discovered on property, which police believe is likely how the culprit(s) entered the home.
All of that has been fixed now, and Richards and Umansky have put extra security measures in place to prevent another incident like this from happening again.
“The alarms are not just set every night but every day too. We set it as soon as someone walks in the door,” the Kyle by Alene Too store owner explains. “We have the cameras operational. We have my five dogs back, which if they had been there, I think things might have been different. And we have two armed guards on the property.”
“I feel safe now,” adds Richards, who bought the property with Umansky in October for $8.2 million. “My biggest concern was making sure my kids felt safe in their new home. … All I care about is that my family is safe.”
(Richards is mom to Farrah, 29, Alexia, 21, Sophia, 17, and Porsha, 9.)
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Umansky agrees with his wife. “Nothing replaces family,” he wrote on Instagram on New Year’s Eve. “They can steal your belongings but they can’t steal your memories or your love.”
All in all, Richards admits it was a “terrible” way to end 2017 — but it won’t have any bearing on the next year.
“I know 2018 is going to be different,” she tells PEOPLE. “2018 is my lucky number and my husband’s lucky number. All four of our children have 18 in their birthday and there’s actually 18 protected oak trees on the property of our house. So we’re thinking, ‘That was a bad way to go out of 2017, but 2018 is going to be way better.’”