A safe stolen from a West Chiltington home, shortly before five people linked with more than 200 burglaries were arrested, is still missing.
Two homes were broken into in West Sussex, and a Ford Focus was carjacked by the five suspects in Billingshurst before they fled from the vehicle on Tuesday January 13, police said.
They were arrested and police believe they may have been involved in more than 200 burglaries across the south east.
Police are appealing for help to find a safe stolen prior to the group’s arrest.
The steel-coloured Chubb safe containing cash and expensive jewellery was taken from a home in Nyetimber Copse, West Chiltington in a break-in between 11am and 7pm on Tuesday.
The safe, which has a key lock and handle, is 24 inches wide, 28 inches high and 18 inches deep - about the size of a set of desk drawers, police said. A similar one is pictured above.
Detective inspector Dave Wardley-Wilkins said: “The safe is very heavy and would have needed at least two people to move it.
“Although we have arrested five people and recovered a quantity of jewellery, we have not yet found the safe or any of its contents.
“It may have been discarded by the offenders as they made their escape with the intention of going back for it later. It could be out in the open so might be seen by a dog walker or someone out enjoying the countryside.
“Another possibility is that it was transferred to a different vehicle and has been moved to another area. If you see a bulky item like that in a vehicle please contact us.
“We also need to find anyone who saw people acting suspiciously in Heathfield Park, Midhurst, and Nyetimber Copse, West Chiltington, on Tuesday. We still need the public’s help.”
A police helicopter and patrol cars were deployed after the homes were burgled.
The suspects drove off in a stolen Volkswagen Golf, a Sussex Police spokesperson said.
However, they used the vehicle to force a 27-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl in a Ford Focus to stop their car on the B2133 in Billingshurst.
The Ford Focus was abandoned in West Chiltington Lane, Billingshurst, and a number of people were seen to run from the car, police said.
Five people, including a 20-year-old man from Billingshurst, were arrested shortly after, and are being questioned on suspicion of being involved in more than 200 burglaries across the south east.
Also arrested were a 24-year-old man from Sidcup in Greater London, a 29-year-old man from South Eckendon in Essex, a 16-year-old boy, and a 28-year-old man from Reigate.
They have been bailed until February 21.
Anyone with information can email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting serial 889 of 13/01, call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.