A TEAM of dedicated police officers have been commended for bringing to justice a serial burglar who tied up some of his lone female victims during a series of terrifying raids.

Det Insp Alan Pitcher, Det Con Robert McWilliams, Det Con Tina Dufus and police analyst Colin Robertson were recognised at an awards ceremony organised by Essex Police.

In August, the team helped to secure a 12-year jail sentence for Conor Ashton, who targeted a number of homes around Greenstead, Colchester.

Between January 2014 and August 2017 Ashton was found to have committed 13 burglaries, three of which were classed as aggravated.

In two particularly disturbing raids, Ashton tied up his female victims after appearing at the end of their beds wearing a balaclava and armed with a knife.

During some of the other burglaries he helped himself to food and drink while inside the properties.

He even began tagging the houses he raided with bizarre graffiti which included insults directed at police officers and gave himself the nickname of the “Stalking Ransacker”.

At Chelmsford Crown Court in August, Ashton was jailed for 12 years and will also serve a four year extended licence period when he is released.

READ MORE: Conor Ashton who tied up women in their homes handed 12 years in jail

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, of the Serious Crime Directorate for Kent Police and Essex Police, praised the work of the award winners.

He said: “Investigating serious crime is a team effort and I am always very proud to attend this ceremony to extend my thanks to everyone who plays such an important role in ensuring justice for victims.

“Serious crimes are often complex in nature and we are fortunate in Kent and Essex to be able to call upon the services of such a professional team of officers and staff who work tirelessly to ensure some of the most dangerous criminals are made to face up to the offences they have committed.

“The awards ceremony was an opportunity for me to thank them personally for the exceptional work they do on a daily basis.”

Analyst Mr Robinson was also commended for his work on the murder investigation into the death of John Cromer, who was killed in Lawford, in December 2017.

In June, Patrick Chandler was jailed for life after being convicted of murder and will serve a minimum term of 20 years.

READ MORE: Patrick Chandler jailed for life for murdering Clacton's John Comer

The officers, who all work at the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, were part of a group of more than

50 men and women whose work was praised at the special ceremony last month.

Attendees included Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott, and Essex Police’s director of strategic change and performance Victoria Harrington.