An 85-year-old lady caught a burglar breaking into her home in broad daylight in Kilkhampton on Friday.
Police are trying to track down the offender who broke through a wooden panelled door and climbed into the house in East Road at around 3pm.
Officers said the woman heard the noise and went to investigate, and found the man inside her home. He claimed to be a council worker.
She managed to lock an internal door which he then smashed through before searching the upstairs rooms of the house while she was calling the police.
The offender then made off through the same door he broke in through.
Police said it is not yet clear if anything was stolen.
Detective Constable Gary Page said the woman was left very shaken by the incident and urged anyone with information to come forward.
He said: “This was obviously very upsetting for the victim and she was very shaken by the incident.
“We are appealing to anyone who knows anything about the burglary or recognises the description of the offender to come forward to police.”
Devon and Cornwall Police said the offender is described as white, aged about 40, 5ft 8ins tall and of stocky build. He was wearing a grey/green anorak, dark trousers and a baseball cap at the time of the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting crime reference BU/12/689.