Detectives are today appealing for witnesses amid fears that the victim will have to move into sheltered accommodation because of her traumatic ordeal in Barrowcliff Road.
Police believe that the suspect also committed an earlier burglary in nearby Gildercliffe. They have linked the two incidents and are urging people to be vigilant.
Neighbour Bill Chatt, a former mayor of Scarborough, was walking his two dogs when he spotted the suspect and gave chase but the offender escaped by leaping over a back garden fence.
He said he first became suspicious when he saw a security light on at the side door.
He said: “I thought it was unusual. As I came level the guy was stood there. I said ‘what are you doing?’ He said it didn’t matter and I thought that’s not right.”
Cllr Chatt said he noticed that the suspect was wearing gloves and he was surprised at how fast the burglar could run – because he was stocky. He said: “I thought there was no way I could have got over the fence. I wished I’d have grabbed hold of him.”
He added that the victim was very vulnerable because of her age as well as being partially sighted and deaf. He said: “She’s very vulnerable and as an old lady he could’ve hurt her. He was somebody I don’t know. You must lock your doors when you go to bed.”
Deryn Robinson, another neighbour, said she was shocked when she heard what had happened. She added: “The first I knew was when Bill came across. It’s terrible. Whoever has done this wants hanging – that’s too good for him.”
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said officers were called to the scene at 6.50am yesterday after the suspect was disturbed by a member of the public.
He added: “Officers are appealing to anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area at the time of the incident or saw anyone running away from the scene of the burglary to contact them with information.”
The suspect was described as between 5ft 10ins and 6ft tall, with a heavy build and weighed about 15st and had short dark hair.
He was wearing a dark top and gloves and spoke with a foreign accent.
The spokesman said: “The suspect ran off across neighbouring gardens in the direction of Bracken Hill. The incident was reported to the police and while an untidy search of the victim’s home had been made, it is still unclear whether anything has been taken.
The earlier incident was at 5am yesterday when a 78-year-old man woke-up to find an intruder in his Gildercliffe home. The spokesman said: “He shouted at him to get out and he left. It is not clear at this stage whether anything was taken.
Detective Constable Andy Hall, of Scarborough CID, said: “It takes a despicable person to target elderly and vulnerable people in this way. It is an awful experience for the victims to find someone intruding in their home in this manner and it takes a long time for them to recover from their ordeal.
“We believe that these two incidents could be linked and I am appealing to the public to help us find out who is responsible. If you saw any suspicious activity this morning in the area the incidents took place, or can help identify the offender, please contact the police or Crimestoppers with information.”
Both victims had left their doors insecure and DC Hall is urging residents to ensure that they have the correct security measures in place to deter potential intruders.
Anyone who has any information is urged to contact Scarborough CID on 0845 6060247 – quoting reference number 12110196884.
Alternatively they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.