How 'rat trap' snared sex attacker - Crime - UK - The Independent

How 'rat trap' snared sex attacker

Delroy Grant was finally snared by an elaborate "rat trap" set up by detectives desperate for a breakthrough.





Senior officers were perplexed that 17 years of investigation, including a huge haul of forensic clues, had not identified the sex attacker.



Under the lead of Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton, who took over the case in 2009, they set up a huge undercover operation aimed at catching him red-handed.



Detectives commandeered New Scotland Yard's room 3000, a high-tech control centre normally used for high-risk terrorist and kidnap operations.



A police analyst sifted dozens of burglaries to identify an area of Shirley, south London, as the criminal's most popular hunting ground.



Experts set up hidden cameras and look-out posts as 70 officers, including surveillance specialists and territorial support group members, were drafted in.



One of the force's three helicopters was also employed to hover at high altitude overhead, using powerful infra-red cameras to see in the dark.



With the go-ahead from Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, who was braced for a substantial bill, the trap was set on October 28, 2009.



Police focused on an area of about one square mile around Orchard Avenue, bordered to the south by the A232 Wickham Road.



On their first night, police discovered the Night Stalker struck three times, twice just to the north of their net and once to the south east, one street away.



The timing of each burglary meant the suspect must have used a vehicle and travelled down Orchard Avenue.



There was hardly any traffic on the road and investigators identified one vehicle as the one probably used by the Night Stalker.



A CCTV camera from a local business caught a shadowy outline identified by a specialist as a post-2005 model silver-grey Vauxhall Zafira.



Footage from a private CCTV camera close to one of the burglaries also showed the silhouette of a man parking a car in an adjacent road and walking to the house.



Over the next few days, as police were examining this flood of priceless information, the Night Stalker struck again in Herne Hill.



An elderly woman dialled 999 when she heard the side gate of her end-of-terrace home being forced open.



The emergency operator overheard the attacker confronting the victim in her bedroom and snatching the receiver from her hand.



As a patrol arrived at the house, officers saw Grant running off and chased him through back streets, gardens and alleyways.



It was one of several near misses. Police were also left frustrated after setting up hidden cameras around three cashpoints he used to steal his victims' money.



The resulting footage, from locations in Bromley, Dulwich and Honor Oak, only showed a shadowy figure with an anorak pulled tight around his face.



Detectives believe the Herne Hill narrow escape "spooked" Grant who did not commit another crime for two weeks, his longest period of non-offending since March.



Meanwhile officers examined the DVLA database, drew up a new list of suspects and asked colleagues to note down every post-2005 silver Zafira they saw.



It was later found that Grant would probably have been visited by police in early 2010 as his car was noted outside the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall near his home.



On the night of Saturday November 14, one undercover officer became suspicious of a silver Zafira parked on a side-street in the Shirley "rat trap".



At about 12.30am, the officer watched a small black man run back to the car and drive off and began to follow him.



Other officers joined the stealthy pursuit and Grant was eventually pulled over in Witham Road, Penge, a short distance from Birkbeck railway station.



He gave a false name, but detectives from the Operation Minstead team quickly found evidence they had caught the Night Stalker.



A crowbar used to lever out double-glazed windows was found in the back of the car and a woolly hat in the glove box.



A dark blue anorak and distinctive fleece used by Grant to disguise himself while withdrawing cash using his victims' cards and details were also discovered.



Meanwhile, a police dog team traced Grant's scent back from where his car was parked to a nearby home where an attempt had been made to break in.



Grant was arrested and brought back to Lewisham police station where a DNA test sealed his fate within hours.



He was linked to 11 victims by his DNA, while distinctive marks left by the crowbar and other evidence would tie him to several more.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Sport
Tito Vilanova passed away aged just 45
footballThe club's former manager died in April, less than a year after he stood down
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
newsBut just how much does a 122-carat coloured diamond go for these days?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week