Police have caught a man suspected of committing more than 70 rapes and murders, but only because he made the mistake of going home for the Lunar New Year. The Beijing Youth Daily yesterday reported the brazen style of Li Shiguo, 26, a native of Luzhai county, Guangxi province, whose trademark was to wear a mask during his alleged crimes, which began in January 1997. Early on March 6 that year, he scaled four floors of an apartment building belonging to the traffic police in Luzhai and entered the home of an officer named Huang. He fatally stabbed Huang, injured his wife and escaped with 1,000 yuan (HK$927) cash and a pistol. He then embarked on a series of crimes, targeting women in roadside shops, beauty parlours, hotels and flats. On August 11, 1997, he broke into hotel rooms in Luzhai where 11 female staff slept, threatened them with a knife, tied them up, raped one and escaped with cash. At the end of 1998, he reportedly carried out a series of crimes in Guigang, Yulin, Guilin and other cities in Guangxi province. Between January 1 and 20 this year he is accused of carrying out eight crimes in different places. On January 20, he broke into a beauty parlour, stabbed three staff, tied up four women, raped one and made off with 2,000 yuan. By now, the police had collected a large amount of evidence but were unable to catch their man because he was always on the move. Stung by their failure, police in nine areas of Guangxi organised a special meeting after the January 20 crime and put 3,000 officers on the street in search of their man. They stopped 7,000 people and came up with a list of 10 suspects, of whom Li was the leading one. His fatal error was to return home for the Lunar New Year to the southwest of Guangxi. On January 22, police in Luzhai received a report that he had gone home. Early next morning, nine officers went to make the arrest. When Li saw them, he jumped five metres from a second-floor window but, as he was making his escape, was caught by officers who had surrounded the building. The next day, DNA tests confirmed his responsibility for more than 70 crimes and police suspect he may be involved in even more.