MORE than 40 burglaries across the Horsham, Wealden and Lewes districts are now being linked by detectives.
The offences began in August in Storrington but have spread to areas including Henfield, Steyning, Bramber and Ashurst.
The most recent of the crimes being linked happened in Storrington on November 19.
In each case, thieves broke into the homes through a back door or window, searched the properties and escaped with selected items of jewellery and valuable items, such as an ornamental plate.
Victims have included people on holiday and elderly residents who recently moved into care homes.
Officers believe the offenders could be cold-calling at homes to try to work out who is in and whether they are likely to have valuables inside, before returning later when the addresses are empty.
CCTV footage of a man breaking into a home in Kings Barn Lane, Steyning, on August 14, one of the 45 burglaries being linked, has now been released in the hope residents can identify the man involved. To watch the footage click here.
Katy Wood, from the Operation Magpie team, said: “”We urgently need the public’s help to identify who is responsible.
“Don’t let cold callers into your home and please report anyone acting suspiciously in your home or nearby to us immediately. Please consider fitting an alarm if you don’t have one, fit timers to your lights so they do on when you are not there and make sure you leave your home secure.
“If you see someone behaving oddly at a neighbour’s home call us - we would rather come out for a false alarm than miss the chance to arrest a burglar.”
If you see or hear a burglary taking place call 999 immediately.
Residents are also being encouraged to register their items on the world’s largest property database so that if they are stolen, they can be reunited with the owners - and so the offenders can be prosecuted.
You can register your property in just a few minutes by visiting www.immobilise.com.
If you have any information about burglaries email email@example.com, call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.