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Antiques stolen include a 19th century diamond necklace worth £200,000, an 1820 diamond tiara worth around £400,000 and an emerald ring that King Charles II gave to his mistress. These items were stolen from the Earl and Countess of March at their Goodwood home in Sussex.

Detectives believe the burglar stakes out his target homes for days before seizing an opportunity to get in through an unlocked door.

Det Insp Dee Fielding from Surrey Police said: “More than £1m worth of property has been taken in total including irreplaceable heirlooms. 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.”

She added: “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.”

Anyone with information should either email OpPrometheus@surrey.pnn.police.uk or call 101 and ask for Surrey Police, Op Prometheus. Independent charity Crimestoppers can also be contacted on 0800 555 111.