A NEW breed of "spree burglars" are believed to be targeting a wealthy London suburb after a spate of violent armed raids in recent weeks.
Frightened residents in Manor Park in Chislehurst, South East London, have reportedly begun bolstering security on their houses – which sell for up to £2million.
It comes after a number of homes were ransacked by professional gangs, including one raid in which a boy, 11, was held hostage and his granddad, 81, sprayed with a liquid.
Danny Beacham, who has lived in the exclusive gated community for 18 years, is among neighbours choosing to extend their CCTV to cover the approach to his home.
He told the Daily Mail: "Everyone is on their toes. There is an online group for worried residents, and we are thinking of employing a private security firm to mount patrols."
Chislehurst, which borders the Kent commuter belt, saw 38 burglaries in the first two months of this year.
One woman, whose £1.8million house was burgled on February 9, says her daughter won't stay home alone after she narrowly avoided the gang – returning home just after the raid.
The company director, who did not want to be named, told the newspaper the burglars had "very distinctive Irish accents" and that the break-in had been "calculated" beforehand.
CCTV footage reportedly shows the intruders in baseball caps and scarves to hide their faces, puffer jackets, gloves and Converse trainers.
The masked men can be seen using an axe to smash open a glass door and gain entry to the building.
The mum-of-two, who was out with her husband at the time, said the gang had been waiting in bushes for them to leave and had burgled the house within six minutes.
Last week, police released CCTV of the moment a gang of armed burglars broke into a Chislehurst home in a terrifying raid.
Four suspects were seen attempting to enter the property at 6pm on March 4.
Armed with a crowbar, one of the men smashed the door before they all charged into the family home.
The suspects then grabbed an 11-year-old boy from the lounge and dragged him through the hallway to where the rest of the family were sitting.
An 81-year-old man was then squirted in the face with what was feared to be a corrosive substance, and the family were threatened with violence as the suspects wielded hammers and a crowbar.
The substance was later found to not be noxious, and the granddad suffered no injures.
They then searched the home for valuables while one suspect stayed with the family.
A teenage girl was also dragged upstairs before they demanded to know where the jewellery was.
However another victim was able to call a family member who then alerted police.
The men then filled the girl’s black school bag with various items of jewellery and ran away from the scene.
Police say the gangs are far from opportunists and in fact plan meticulously before carrying out swiftly executed operations.
Spree burglars travel the country looking for targets, especially secluded houses in wealthy areas, and use false number plates on cars to evade detection, according to officers.
Detectives believe the raiders are using social media to identify their targets and watching out for people showing off expensive purchases online.
Cops claim the gangs are made up of varying nationalities, but those in nearby Bromley and beyond may involve Eastern European or South American gangs, according to the Mail.
Superintendent Sean Wilson, lead officer for burglary at Scotland Yard, told the newspaper: "These are people coming here with very little money.
"They will have no hesitation in bedding down in a room with ten or 15 other people for two or three months. They stop in one area then move on [to the next].
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"Some will come from within the UK, some from overseas — Eastern Europe for example — but also South America. We also have travelling communities involved."
Police said they still had not caught any of the perpetrators, but believe the incidents may be linked.
Detectives from Bromley Burglary Squad say the properties have all been broken into through the rear of the premises after the doorbell was rung.
The renewed police appeal comes after burglar Henry Vincent was fatally stabbed in a botched burglary after invading a 78-year-old pensioner's home in nearby Hither Green on April 4.
Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, and his wife, who has dementia, have gone into hiding after residents repeatedly tore down floral tributes to Vincent outside his home.
His stabbing has prompted a fresh debate over the rights of homeowners to defend their homes.
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