Man pleads guilty to distraction burglaries

A prolific distraction burglar who targeted vulnerable elderly people has admitted carrying out offences across central southern England.

William Vinson, 59, of Cotswold Terrace, Chipping Norton, appeared at Oxford Crown Court on Friday to plead guilty to 11 offences in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire including one in Butlers Close, Aston-Le-Walls in October 2010.

He also indicated he will ask for a further 77 offences across Northamptonshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire and in the West Mercia Police area to be taken into consideration when he is sentenced.

Although sentencing was adjourned until Friday 13 January 2012 at Oxford Crown Court, he was told by Recorder Andrew McCooey to expect a substantial prison sentence.

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

“The only redeeming point is you have pleaded guilty, but let me be perfectly clear you are looking at a very substantial custodial sentence for your crimes.”

The operation to catch Vinson was named Operation Strident, led by CID 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.

They were assisted by support from neighbouring forces in the region. Detective Inspector Mark Johns, who co-ordinated the investigation, said: “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 in order 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 he will spend this Christmas behind bars thinking about the custodial sentence he will receive in the New Year.”