The Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and his family have been left distressed after an attack by armed burglars that left them fearing for their lives.
Police said the four intruders assaulted the cyclist, who was at home recovering from injuries sustained in a crash at a track event in Belgium, and threatened his wife, Peta, in the presence of their young children during what officers described as a targeted attack on their home in Essex on 27 November.
“As I’m sure you will understand, this incident has left our family extremely distressed – not just myself and Peta but our children as well, who feared for their lives and are now struggling with the after-effects,” Cavendish said.
“No one should have to experience the sort of violence and threats made against us, let alone this happening in a family home – a place where everyone should feel safe. The items taken are simply material goods and our priority at the moment is to make sure we all recover from the incident as a family, and we know this is likely to take some time.”
None of the family sustained serious injuries during the burglary, and the intruders left with a Louis Vuitton suitcase and two high-value watches, Essex police said.
Officers have released images of people wanted in connection with the raid. They have not yet made any arrests.
DI Tony Atkin, the senior investigating officer on the case, said: “This was undoubtedly a targeted incident at the home of a celebrated British Olympian, who at the time was recovering from significant injuries resulting from a crash while competing, which was well publicised. Our investigation is moving along at pace and we are following a number of lines of inquiry as we seek to catch those responsible.”
He said CCTV footage showed people leaving the scene, and he urged anyone who recognised them to get in contact with police.
“We are also releasing images of the suitcase and two watches which were stolen during the incident. It is likely the people who stole these items are attempting to offload them for sizeable sums of money and I would urge anyone who is being offered these items to please get in touch with us – they are stolen property. If you have been offered these items, please contact us immediately,” Atkin said.
“We know an incident such as this will naturally cause a lot of concern within the community. There will continue to be a visible policing presence in the area as our investigations progress in the coming days.”
Police declined to say what weapons the burglars carried.
Anyone who was in the Ongar area between 2am and 2.40am on 27 November and saw anybody acting suspiciously, or has any information that could help police, is asked to contact Loughton CID, or call 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.