West Oxfordshire’s police chief says the force has won a “decisive battle” against prolific burglars.

Ch Insp Colin Paine became the district’s area commander in April last year and made a promise to cut the rising number of burglaries.

West Oxfordshire homes were hit 188 times in 2010/11, compared to 150 the previous year.

But burglaries have now fallen by 32.4 per cent to 127, the lowest number since 1998.

Mr Paine, pictured, said: “This year has been a decisive battle against our prolific burglars but the war will continue. We are committed to taking the fight to burglars, wherever they may be.”

Mr Paine’s force has focused on burglars coming into the area from neighbouring counties to steal.

His team has visited criminals in Gloucestershire and used number-plate recognition cameras to track their movements.

Mr Paine said: “We have become expert at identifying cross-border offenders. We are not waiting for them to hit us.”

Police have also worked with West Oxfordshire District Council to help protect and secure the homes of vulnerable people.

The efforts have seen burglary detection rates rise from 13.3 per cent in 2010/11 to 26 per cent in 2011/12.

Mr Paine said: “Research shows that to achieve a detection rate of 11 per cent for burglaries is very good.

“Detecting burglary is tremendously difficult because in most cases there are no witnesses and very limited evidence left behind.”

West Oxfordshire burglars recently put behind bars include William Vinson, who was jailed for nine years in January. The 59-year-old, of Cotswold Terrace, Chipping Norton, committed more than 100 distraction burglaries.

Michael McLarnon, of Church Street in Wootton, near Woodstock, was jailed for 33 months in January after admitting four burglaries in West Oxfordshire.

The 36-year-old targeted the elderly, including a man with dementia, in his own village.

Total recorded crime in West Oxfordshire fell by 12 per cent between 2010/11 and 2011/12, from 4,563 to 4,014 incidents.

Wounding, endangering life and GBH without intent fell 26.3 per cent to 14, assault causing less serious injury fell 7.4 per cent to 302 and total sexual offences fell 25.5 per cent to 35.

Mr Paine said he would also prioritise violent crime, rural crime and domestic violence this year.