Armed burglars threatened a man with a knife and sprayed him with a substance during a terrifying break-in during the early hours of Tuesday.

Police say up to three men, who were wearing balaclavas, broke into a home in Oak Road, Rivenhall, at around 12.30am.

Once inside they threatened the man with a knife before spraying him in the face with what is believed to be CS spray.

They then fled the scene with two watches, cash and car keys but did not steal the cars.

The victim did not require any hospital treatment following the attack.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are particularly keen to hear from anyone with dash cam footage before or after the incident in this area including the A12 at Rivenhall.”

James Abbott, Rivenhall Parish Council chairman, said: “Something like this is extremely unusual but it’s clearly just dreadful.

“Let’s hope the police are able to apprehend those responsible because there’s nothing worse than a breach of your own home.”

Anyone with information or CCTV or dash cam footage should call Braintree CID on 101 quoting incident 09 of 09/10.