A SERIAL criminal who committed her 24th burglary just days before Christmas has been jailed.

Sylvia Martin was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Friday after earlier admitting breaking into homes in Marston Road, Marston, and Headley Way, Headington, Oxford.

Matthew Walsh, prosecuting, said the 38-year-old was spotted by the four occupants of the first house on December 17 and escaped without stealing anything.

He said Martin was captured on CCTV entering the second property just two days later but again was unable to take anything.

“She has an extensive record of dwelling burglary incidents, being on licence (from prison) for a dwelling burglary when this happened,” Mr Walsh said.

He added: “By my reckoning these are her 23rd and 24th dwelling burglaries.”

Under the ‘third strike’ rule, burglars who tot up three such offences are automatically jailed for three years unless it is considered unjust to do so.

Martin, from Stainer Place , Marston, was given a three-year sentence in October 2009.

Rebekkah Hummerstone, defending, said: “She had been able to stay away from Class A drugs for five months before these offences and effectively fell off the wagon.

“For somebody with a habit of 20 years it was quite an achievement.”

Judge Anthony King jailed Martin for 29 months and urged her to get her life back on track.