Rewards of £10,500 have been offered to catch a group of burglars who have broken into almost 100 homes across the south east.
Detectives are now linking offences from across East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Kent, Surrey and London to one group of offenders but need the public’s help to identify those responsible.
A total of 34 homes in West Sussex, 10 in East Sussex, seven in Brighton and Hove, 35 in Kent, 8 in Surrey and two in London are thought to have been burgled by the group.
Sussex Police, Kent Police and Surrey Police have now each contributed £2,500 to a reward to help catch the offenders – a total of £7,500 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those involved.
Independent from the police, the charity Crimestoppers is offering its own reward of up to £3,000 for information that is passed anonymously through the organisation’s 0800 555111 number that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for these crimes.
If information passed to the charity should lead to an arrest and conviction, both rewards will be considered.
The group of burglars usually smash doors or windows to get into the homes, carry out quick searches and steal gold jewellery in particular.
They are believed to be using at least two vehicles to carry out the burglaries, a silver Audi and a blue Ford Mondeo, both of which are being driven on false numberplates.
Detective Inspector Dave Wardley-Wilkins said:
“The offences across the region are so similar that it we have to presume that they are all linked.
We believe one group of burglars are involved but at this stage we do not know if it is exactly the same group of people each time. A number of people are involved but the make-up of the group may change depending on who is available.
In each case the burglars appear to be looking for jewellery when they break in and often leave other valuables items behind.There already have been almost a hundred victims in this series and we urgently need the public’s help to stop these offenders before they claim any more.”
Officers are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of the burglaries on the days they were committed or the days before and who may have seen people acting suspiciously.
Anyone with information should contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting Operation Smart, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101.
If you see or hear a burglary taking place call 999 immediately.
Residents are also being encouraged to register their items on the world’s largest property database so that if they are stolen, they can be reunited with the owners – and so the offenders can be prosecuted.