England

Oxfordshire victim of distraction burglar William Vinson 'terrified'

"I shouted at him and said 'what the hell are you doing?' He laughed at me."

Sylvia, 77, from Oxfordshire, will never forget the day in March 2010 when she met William Vinson.

"He seemed nice, he was very polite... he got the badge with his photograph, I thought he was genuine," she said.

Little did she know that Vinson, who has now been jailed for more than 100 distraction burglaries, was a criminal who preyed upon elderly victims.

Sylvia, who did not want to give her surname, remembers coming home that afternoon and seeing him knocking on a neighbour's door.

'Smacked in face'

"I shouted across the road and told him to stop banging on the door because she was ill after having an operation," she said.

"I told him there was nobody there until much, much later, so he said 'oh well I'll come across and do you now'."

Image caption Vinson asked for 77 further offences to be taken into consideration

He claimed he was from the electric board and asked to see a bill before following her into her home.

He said she was owed a £60 rebate and gave her two £50 notes and she gave him the right change.

He then said he needed to test her plugs and asked her to go into the kitchen to check something for him while he stayed in the lounge.

Sylvia said: "I came in [back to the lounge] and he'd just taken everything out of my bag.

"I walked towards him, which I shouldn't have done, and he threw my bag at me and smacked me in the face with it and ran off.

"I chased after him but I only got to the second bungalow and collapsed, he was gone."

Vinson had stolen £500 in cash and a number of personal items, including treasured photographs of Sylvia's husband and family.

'I'm trapped'

"I know the money was a lot for me... but the thing that hurts the most is not getting my photographs back," she said.

"My husband died 16 years next month. They were lovely memories, things we did when we were younger.

"They meant much more to me than this house or my money, anything.

"I wish I had shut the door. I didn't think he'd walk in, I didn't invite him in, I just said 'I'll get the bill for you.'"

Image caption A number of family photographs were stolen in the burglary

Sylvia, whose pet dog died a week after the incident, said it had completely changed her lifestyle.

"I was a very independent person. I would come home at midnight and let myself in... but once it gets dark I have no life, I am shut in.

"I can't go anywhere at night. I'm trapped. I don't like living here anymore, I'm terrified."

Vinson, 59, of Cotswold Terrace, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, admitted 11 offences between October 2010 and November 2011 across central southern England.

He asked for a further 90 offences to be taken into consideration.

He was jailed for a total of nine years.

Sylvia said it has been little comfort to know he had been caught.

"[The fact he has pleaded guilty] doesn't make all the people that he has done it to any better.

"If they locked him up for life it wouldn't make me feel any better."

Sylvia said she was now very cautious about people coming to her door and urged other people to be the same.

"Never ever open the door to anybody you don't know, even if they have a badge. Shut the door, make them wait until you know if they are genuine," she said.

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