DETECTIVES have appealed for help in the hunt for a “violent and dangerous” armed burglar, dubbed The Night Watcher.

Property worth more than one million pounds, including irreplaceable family heirlooms, have been taken in seven raids on homes in Surrey, Kent, Sussex and Thames Valley.

Officers believe the lone offender might be ex services, or military due to the levels of preparation and athletic prowess involved.

On each occasion, he has used violence and the threat of a sawn-off shotgun, leaving his victims injured and “extremely distressed”.

He is always aware of who is at home, the house layout, and where the safe is.

Described as white, of a stocky/muscular build, around 6ft tall, he speaks with a south of England accent.

Detective Inspector Dee Fielding from Surrey Police said: “Each of these burglaries has been extremely distressing for the victims involved and have been investigated both in isolation by the relevant force and together as a cross-border investigation.

“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 burglaries all appear to be the work of someone who knows exactly what they are doing and who is incredibly decisive in their actions.

“On each occasion unnecessary levels of violence has been used in addition to a firearm, which he used to threaten the victims, who have then been tied up.

“He has worked quickly and appears to have knowledge of who is home at the time of each attack, the location of safes and the layout of the home. This leads us to believe he has planned the attacks in advance with a great level of detail and prior knowledge.

“More than £1m worth of valuable items, including irreplaceable heirlooms have been taken. However, this investigation is primarily driven with the aim of preventing any further harm coming to anybody else by identifying and bringing a violent and dangerous man to justice.

“Whoever is responsible for these incidents may seem to have cash or income disproportionate to their job, they might also be often travelling or away without explanation for long periods of time. If you are aware of someone who fits the potential background we have described and is also behaving suspiciously I would urge you to get in touch with us immediately.

“If you have information about these individual incidents please come forward, however we are particularly keen to hear from people who may be able to help identify this offender.”

• To pass on information either email [email protected] or call 101 and ask for Surrey Police, Op Prometheus. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Updates will be posted on