Mark Cavendish has made a public appeal for help catching four armed men who burgled his home and robbed his family at knifepoint.
In a statement on social media, Cavendish said his wife and their children were threatened and he was “violently attacked”.
Cavendish, 36, had been at home recuperating after suffering broken ribs and a collapsed lung in a crash on 21 November.
“In the early hours of 27th November, while recovering at our Essex family home shortly after leaving Intensive Care, 4 masked and armed men forced their way into our home as we slept, threatened my wife and children and violently attacked me,” he posted. “At knifepoint, they proceeded to ransack our belongings.”
Two watches of “great sentiment and value” were stolen. Cavendish wrote: “Far, far worse to be taken was the sense of security, privacy and dignity that my young family and everybody else is entitled to in their home.”
He added: “The effect that this nightmare has had on my family is already heart-breakingly evident, so I beg anyone who may be able to help us with information to call 101, quoting reference 42/275184/21.”
Essex Police said the group assaulted Cavendish, 36, and threatened his wife Peta in the presence of their young children. None of the family sustained serious injuries and the burglars left, stealing a Luis 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 separate 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 27 November. 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.”
Additional reporting by PA
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