Police fear 'night stalker' has struck again

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The Independent Online

Detectives fear Britain's most wanted serial burglar and sex attacker may have struck again.

Specialist officers have been brought in to investigate nine burglaries at properties in south London over the last fortnight.

They fear a serial rapist dubbed the "night stalker" is behind the flurry of crimes.

The light-skinned black man, responsible for more than 100 offences dating back to 1990, preys on the elderly.

Some of his victims, both men and women, have been raped and sexually assaulted. He often wears a mask and wakes his victims by shining a torch in their faces.

Police said only one of the burglaries has been linked conclusively after DNA was recovered. The criminal is already thought to be behind 25 raids this year.

Two of the break-ins took place a short distance from each other in Shirley, near Croydon. The victims were aged 91 and 93.

Forensic experts scoured the houses as officers from Operation Minstead, the unit set up to identify and capture the suspect, were alerted.

The burglaries bring the total number of raids linked to the man during a 19-year reign of terror to at least 106.

The attacks have taken place in clusters in south and south-east London, including Dulwich, Orpington, Norwood, Downham, Lee, West Wickham and Bickley.

The culprit is thought to be an employed black man, aged between 35 and 45, who masks his crimes behind the veneer of a respectable life.

He is believed to have a sexual fixation with the elderly as his victims have been aged 68 to 99, with an average age in the 80s.

Police said the man has raped four victims, one of whom suffered horrific injuries and almost died in surgery.

On more than 24 other occasions he sexually assaulted his victims during raids police have linked through DNA and other forensic evidence.

Although the vast majority of his victims have been women, police said they also included 10 elderly men, one of whom suffered a sexual attack.

Most offences have taken place in south-east London, although the man may also have links to Brighton.

In 2006, detectives flew to Trinidad to make an appeal for information after forensic techniques showed the suspect originates from the Windward Islands.

A reward of up to £40,000 remains on offer to anyone who can provide information that leads police to him.