Thieves smashed a front door and burgled a house in front of passing motorists.
The owners returned to their home in Coggeshall Road, Braintree, to find the door broken and a games console and jewellery gone.
It was burgled between 8am and 6pm on Tuesday.
Det Con Gemma Crowson, of Essex Police, said: "This couple had been out all day, returning to find their front door smashed in.
"We would hope that passing motorists and nearby residents saw this property being broken into.
"These owners have been left shocked by what has happened to them.
"We want to identify who broke into their home, arrest them and take them off the streets.
"No doubt, they are serial burglars and so have the potential to target other homes in the area.
"In order to deter these thieves, we again remind people to close and lock doors and windows.”
Forensic tests and house-to-house enquiries have been carried out.
The house is near the junction with Bartram Avenue North.
Anyone with information should call Braintree police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.