Nine years for spree which ‘ruined lives’

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A BURGLAR who ‘destroyed the lives’ of scores of pensioners has been jailed for nine years.

William Vinson, 59, was sentenced on Friday after being convicted of more than 100 distraction burglaries, targetting Thame, Brill, Cuddington, Worminghall, Cublington, Haddenham, Marsh Gibbon and Chinnor.

Detective Inspector Mark Johns, who co-ordinated the investigation into Vinson, says his tactics often caused irreparable damage to the victims and their families.

“The type of crime carried out by William Vinson is utterly contemptible and among the most upsetting for victims to come to terms with.

“He targeted the most vulnerable people in society, pretending to be a new friendly neighbour or a workman from one of the utility services in order to gain their trust.

“Once he had done so, he stole cash and valuables, destroying lives and causing distress and misery to benefit himself.

“Some of the victims have since died and others will never live independently again as a result of what he did to them.

“I am pleased that the sentence reflects the distress caused to his victims and I hope this goes some way to bringing them a sense of justice.”

The operation to catch Vinson, of Chipping Norton, was named Operation Strident, led by officers from Thames Valley Police, in partnership with Wiltshire Police and Operation Liberal, a national police unit which co-ordinates the investigation of distraction burglaries.

Sentencing Vinson at Oxford Crown Court, Judge Anthony King said he recognised the distress caused to his victims, many of whom have since died.

At a previous hearing in December last year, Recorder Andrew McCooey, told Vinson he was a despicable predator.

He said: “You are a vile, despicable person preying on these vulnerable victims. Goodness knows what untold damage you have done to these people.”

Det Sgt Craig Burchall, who also worked on the case, says Vinson was a coward.

“It was notable that there were a large number of foiled burglaries where the victim refused to open the door or phoned a friendly neighbour or close relative when Vinson called. Even the threat of a neighbour coming round was sometimes enough to scare him off.”