Police hunting an armed, violent burglar have had more than 100 calls after an appeal for the public’s help.
Some callers have reported similar raids in which wealthy victims have been brutally attacked and tied up in their country mansions.
The so-called Night Watcher is thought to have stolen more than a million pounds’ worth of jewellery, watches and cash after staking out homes and then threatening residents with a sawn-off shotgun.
Detectives are desperate to identify and catch the suspect, whom they believe could be a former soldier, as they fear he could kill someone.
Initially, the suspect was thought to have raided seven homes across southeast England in the past three years.
They include a burglary at historic Goodwood House on the Sussex Downs, in which the Earl and Countess of March were attacked and tied up.
Their stolen heirlooms included a £400,000 tiara and an emerald ring that King Charles II gave to his mistress.
Susan Morris, 61, whose home in Kingswood, Surrey, was raided in October, described her ordeal.
She said: “One point when he was hitting me with the gun pointing at me, at that moment I did actually think, ‘this is it, it’s all over’.”
The woman suffered a broken jaw and lost a tooth during the attack, which left her heavily bruised.
The burglar, who got his name due to his meticulous research ahead of each raid, has been described as a “well-spoken, intelligent thief” and a “highly professional soldier” by police.
In one raid, the suspect was so confident of the victims not being able to raise the alarm that he spent more than an hour with them gathering items he wished to steal.
Surrey Police’s Detective Inspector Dee Fielding said the level of planning, the use of cable ties and the man’s confidence in carrying out the burglaries suggested he had a forces background.
“Each of these burglaries have been extremely distressing for the victims involved,” she said.
“We do not believe this to be the work of an opportunist burglar, but someone who has specialist knowledge and skills – possibly ex-forces or from a similar background due to the way he has behaved and the circumstances of each incident.”
The man is described as white, 6ft, stocky and muscular and he speaks with a southern accent.
:: Anyone with information can call 101 and ask for Surrey Police, Operation Prometheus, or email [email protected] Anonymous calls can be made to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.