A burglar who stole priceless jewellery in a Thame raid was arrested in Oxford a fortnight later when jewellery from a different break-in was found in the car footwell.

Sergey Dimitrov’s victims were just minutes from interrupting the thief in their property in Bell Lane, Thame, on the afternoon April 6.

CCTV from the car park adjacent to their property showed the 30-year-old burglar walking away just minutes before the couple returned home from their walk.

The criminal had tried to chisel through the door lock, damaging it so badly it was jammed. The homeowner had to climb into her house through a broken window then call the police.

Prosecutor Cathy Olliver told Oxford Crown Court on Monday (June 26) that the house had been ‘ransacked’, with rooms gone through and boxes emptied.

Jewellery belonging to the victim’s mother, and worth an estimated £5,800 but with priceless sentimental value, had been stolen.

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In a victim personal statement summarised to the court by Ms Olliver, the woman said she felt ‘utterly shocked’ when she discovered the break-in.

“At first, she felt she didn’t need the jewellery to remember her mother by, but as time has gone on, she has become more and more upset by the loss of these sentimental items,” the prosecutor said.

Dimitrov was wearing a ‘distinctive’ jacket, which allowed police to track him on CCTV back to his French-registered car.

The vehicle was stopped two-and-a-half weeks later, on April 26, near Wolvercote. Dimitrov was wearing the same 'distinctive' coat as the one seen on CCTV in Thame.

Jewellery taken in a different burglary was found in the footwell of the car. He also had a screwdriver, which Ms Olliver suggested could have been used to commit thefts.

Dimitrov, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to burglary and going equipped for theft.

He also asked for two other break-ins to be taken into consideration by the judge. On April 13, he forced entry to a house in Park Close, Blaydon, when £15,000 worth of jewellery was stolen and he was interrupted by the homeowner as he tried to take the safe. On June 26, he broke into a house in Oxford Road, Burford, and again stole jewellery.

He had no previous convictions in the UK or abroad.

Recorder Alexander McGregor jailed the defendant for 18 months. He told him: “What you did left [your victims] unsettled and left them feeling unsafe in their own home.”

He accepted that Dimitrov had shown ‘some remorse’ by pleading guilty and asking further burglaries to be taken into consideration.

Explaining why he was imposing an immediate jail sentence, the judge said: “Burglary is a serious offence. It has a detrimental impact on people’s lives. Some planning was clearly involved and you had the means to break in.

“You stole items of some financial value and, perhaps more importantly, items of particular sentimental value to the victims.”

Because there was evidence that Dimitrov had used his car to carry out the burglaries, Recorder McGregor banned him from driving in the UK for two years.

Mitigating, Gareth James said his client was a Bulgarian national who had spent the past 15 years living and working in France. He moved to the UK in search of better prospects.

“Unfortunately, that did not work out as he had hoped and as a result of that he found himself in this country and short of money,” the advocate said.

Upon his release from prison, Dimitrov hoped to return to France where he had spent his adult life and had strong ties.