THE Duchess of Cornwall was handed the keys to two new vans on behalf of a charity which helps victims targeted by burglars.

The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, helps elderly and vulnerable residents affected by house crime.

And yesterday the group took possession of the state of the art vehicles to mark its tenth anniversary.

The Duchess, who is the trust's patron, inspected one of the vehicles and then jumped behind the wheel during a visit to Melksham police station.

She also met volunteers, staff and some elderly burglary victims who had been helped by the charity.

The trust, which costs around £200,000 a year to run, sends a manned Bobby Van with trained carpenters and locksmiths to repair doors and windows at properties which have been broken into.

They also carry out proactive work, visiting vulnerable residents and giving them advice on security.

The replacement vans, paid for through fundraising, have improved equipment on board including advanced communication systems and satellite navigation.

Trust chairman Robert Hiscox said: "We started with one bread van and a box of tools but have now visited nearly 10,000 homes in the last ten years.

"A lot of old people are living alone and in fear. If we can eradicate that then we are doing a tremendous job."

Among the people the Duchess spoke to were pensioners Michael and Joan De'Ath, who had the Bobby Van to thank after their bungalow in Box was burgled in February.

Mr De'Ath, an 87-year-old retired civil servant who served with the Navy during the Second World War, said: "They used a pillow case and took away jewellery and other things that were sentimental to us.

"It was a horrible feeling - like your territory had been invaded. But the Bobby Van came along and they were wonderful.

"They fitted new locks and made us feel a lot calmer. It certainly helped soften some of the blow of being burgled."

As the Duchess took possession of the van keys she said she was proud to be the patron of the trust and paid tribute to the "fantastic job" the staff were doing.

She added: "We have gone from strength to strength and the Wiltshire Bobby Van is an example to everyone."

The Duchess then cut a cake baked in the shape of a Bobby Van to celebrate the anniversary.