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
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game