An ‘incredibly violent’ masked man who raided a Sussex stately home has been linked to a series of terrifying aggravated burglaries across the South East.
A lone burglar climbed through an upstairs window at Goodwood House in January 2016 before assaulting and tying up the then Lord and Lady March and stealing £700,000 worth of jewellery.
Police now believe the thief is responsible for seven high-value burglaries in four counties, in which he entered homes armed with a sawn-off shotgun, threatening the occupants and binding them with cable ties.
Detective Inspector Dee Fielding from Surrey Police said: “He is incredibly confident, he’s incredibly violent and we believe he has specialist skills, which is not usual for the burglars we investigate.
“This individual does extensive research into the houses before he burgles them. We know he stakes them out.”
She said the man was likely to be ex-military and could wait for up to a couple of weeks in the garden or nearby, watching the routine of a home for when a back door would be unlocked.
Victims reported the masked man appeared to know the house layout and about safes or valuables in the home, such as irreplaceable family heirlooms, engagement rings.
DI Fielding said the incidents had been traumatic for victims, who had been left in ‘absolute fear’ for their lives and family members including children who were in the house at the time.
“There is senseless violence used against defenceless people in their own homes, the place where you think you should be safe,” she said. “This has been absolutely terrifying for victims.”
Police have linked thefts across Kent, Surrey, Thames Valley and Sussex at intervals of four to six months from 2014 to 2017, typically to large, secluded properties that left little opportunites for witnesses.
With little forensic detail, or other leads to work on, the four police forces are appealing for help from the public to track down the burglar.
Sussex Police detective inspector Till Sanderson said: “We carried out an extensive investigation in to the robbery at Goodwood House and exhausted all lines of enquiry. Should any further information come to light we shall not hesitate to pursue new leads.
“We have worked with Surrey Police on their investigation and welcome this renewed appeal to bring this man to justice.”
The man is described as around 6ft with a southern accent. If you know anyone who has a large amount of disposable cash, who disappears for periods of time, who has military skills and fits the description contact police on 101 quoting Operation Prometheus.
Police are also asking for help tracing any of the stolen items, which may have been sold on to individuals who were unaware of their background.