Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish was “violently attacked” after four masked and armed men forced their way into his home in the middle of the night.
In the early hours of Saturday, 27 November the men broke into his family home in Essex, threatened his wife and children, and ransacked their belongings at knifepoint.
Mr Cavendish said his children “feared for their lives” during the targeted attack, and are now “struggling with the after-effects”.
The group stole a Luis Vuitton suitcase and two watches of high value and sentiment.
Police confirmed the attack was “undoubtedly a targeted incident” and it happened shortly after Mr Cavendish had been discharged from the hospital having been in intensive care with significant cycling injuries.
He had suffered a collapsed lung and two broken ribs in a crash during the Ghent Six Day track event at the end of November.
In a statement, Mr Cavendish said: “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.”
He posted on Instagram and “begged” anyone who had any information to come forward to the police.
Peta also released a statement on Twitter, adding: “They threatened myself and our children and violently attacked Mark.
“The effect that this nightmare has had on our family is already heart-breakingly evident.”
Detective Inspector Tony Atkin, the senior investigating officer on the case, “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.”
The force has released CCTV images of people caught fleeing the scene, as well as photographs of the stolen items.
Det Insp Atkin added: “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.”
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 with the investigation, should contact Loughton CID on 101 quoting reference 42/275184/21 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.