A DARTS champion has spoken of how he feels his home has been violated after burglars stole the gold ring he bought his late mum with his first winnings.

Dennis Smith, 50, who reached the semis at the PDC World Championship in 2000, discovered the thieves had struck when he returned from a weekend away with wife Stephanie visiting friends in Chesterfield.

The pub sportsman told the Adver: “They took one of my mum’s rings. When I was a young lad I won a few quid at darts and I bought my mum a ring.”

Wife Stephanie, 53, lost rings, bracelets and other jewellery taken that had belonged to her parents and grandmother.

“I’m devastated – devastated – at the loss. It’s the sentimental value of jewellery belonging to parents who are no longer here,” she said.

“What gives somebody like that the right to enter somebody else’s property and take stuff that’s not theirs? How would they feel if somebody did it to them?”

The couple returned to their home on Church Walk North, Moredon, at around 6pm on Sunday, March 8 to find the house had been broken into.

Dennis said: “They got in through a side gate and took the kitchen window out. They didn’t smash it. They removed it.

“I feel like my personal space has been violated."

The Moredon man began playing darts at an early age, learning how to count by chalking up the score when his dad Bill played with his friends at the pub.

The player, known by his nickname "Smiffy", enjoyed success at the sport in his teens. He was spotted by darts pro Bob Anderson in the Kingsdown pub, Stratton, and sponsored by the champion's company Team Today.

Dennis said: "I’m quite well known in Swindon as a semi-professional darts player and it seems strange why the burglars would target us considering there are houses near us that have been empty for two weeks.

“The police seem to think they knew what they were doing.

“I think, personally, they got spooked. Upstairs there was a £600 camera that wasn’t taken.”

The burglars had ransacked the bedroom, flipping a bed and checking beneath the mattress. They cleared the house of sentimental jewellery, including Dennis’ Rolex watch and a Pandora bracelet belonging to Stephanie.

Last week, the couple checked jewellery shops and pawn brokers without success. They called on people to contact police if they had been offered the Rolex watch, the Pandora charms bracelet or other gold jewellery in the past week.

In February, the Adver revealed hat just four per cent of the 1,500 burglaries reported to police in 2018/19 resulted in a suspect being charged.