An ‘incredibly violent’ burglar with ‘specialist skills’ is behind a series of terrifying raids across the south including a robbery at Goodwood House, police have said.
Police have put out a major appeal this morning linking seven high-value burglaries across four counties that saw ‘senseless violence’.
Lord and Lady March were assaulted and tied up in January 2016 by a man who climbed through an upstairs window at their Sussex stately home.
The lone burglary got away with £700,000 worth of jewellery.
Now police believe the thief is responsible for six other raids, 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 burglaries we investigate.
‘This individual does extensive research into the houses before he burgles them. We know he stakes them out.’
As previously reported by The News, a Portsmouth groundsman who previously worked at Goodwood was arrested by armed police only to be released with no action months later.
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 and 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 opportunities for witnesses.
With little or no 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 into 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 white, around 6ft tall 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.