Tour de France and Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish said his family are “extremely distressed” after a group of masked robbers assaulted him and threatened his wife in a knifepoint raid while his children were in the house.
Four intruders entered Cavendish’s home in the Ongar area of Essex in what police described as a “targeted incident” in the early hours of November 27, as he was recovering from significant injuries from a crash at a track event in Belgium.
Essex Police said the group assaulted Cavendish, 36, and threatened his wife Peta in the presence of their young children.
The sportsman said in an Instagram post that the “four masked and armed men forced their way into our home as we slept, threatened my wife and children and violently attacked me”.
“At knifepoint they proceeded to ransack our belongings,” he said.
None of the family sustained serious injuries and the burglars left, stealing a Louis Vuitton suitcase and two high-value watches, the force said.
As police released images of people police want to speak to in connection with the raid, Cavendish said in a statement: “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.
“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.”
Police were called at 2.35am on Saturday, November 27. No arrests have been made.
Detective Inspector 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 whilst 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.
“Mr Cavendish and his wife were assaulted and threatened in their own home, in the presence of their young children, who witnessed these events.
“Thankfully, they are recovering, but the traumatic effect will be long standing.
“Today, we are releasing images of the people captured on CCTV fleeing the scene and we would urge anyone who recognises them to get in contact with us immediately.
“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.”
“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.”
Although police said the burglars were armed they declined to say what with.
Anyone who was in the Ongar area between 2am and 2.40am on November 27 and saw anybody acting suspiciously, or has any information that could help police, is asked to contact Loughton CID quoting reference 42/275184/21.
Alternatively, people can call 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.