Vicious gang of burglars thought to have struck in Ditchling

Posted On 21 Nov 2009 at 9:13 am

A gang of burglars responsible for savage attacks on elderly people in their homes are thought to have struck again in Ditchling.

Last night burglars raided the house of an elderly man, tying him up while they searched the house for valuables.

It follows two other savage attacks on elderly people in their homes, one in Hadlow Down on Friday, November 6 and another in Dodds Bottom on September 27.

In the latest raid, three men entered the 72-year-old man’s home in Common Lane, just north of Garden Pride.

They assaulted him and tied him up whilst they searched the house and stole four shotguns and cash.

They untied the man before leaving some 45 minutes later. He was treated at Royal Sussex County Hospital for minor injuries but not detained.

Detective Inspector Neil Ralph said: “Whilst there have been a number of similar attacks, we believe that the victims have been specifically targeted and the offenders may know their victims.”

Sussex Police have launched Operation Westdown to investigate the raids, two of which have seen firearms taken.

In the first raid, an elderly market trader was attacked outside his home and his wife threatened inside the property. The burglars made off with a bag containing several thousand pounds in cash.

Then in Hadlow Down, another elderly couple were subjected to a sustained attack in which 77-year-old William Skipper was hit several times with a blue-handled claw hammer.

The raiders stole the couple’s Ford Focus and took more than £1000 cash, several shotguns, a deactivated revolver (all lawfully held), credit cards and some jewellery.

The attacks are also being linked to the theft of a Nissan Sunny M179AUF, stolen from Fletching on the night of the Nutley raid and set alight in a field very near the couple’s home the following morning.

In a witness appeal following the first two raids, DI Ralph said: “Incidents such as these are rare, they were not random attacks.

There is no need for the public at large to be alarmed.’’

Descriptions of the men responsible for the Ditchling raid are limited, but one was stocky, wearing black clothing, with a black woolly hat and a white dust protector type mask over his face.

Anyone with information about the attack should call 0845 60 70 999 quoting Operation Westdown or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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