A WOMAN sleeping in her bed was attacked by a gang of burglars before they ran off with jewellery worth thousands of pounds.

Five men broke into the house in Papenburg Road, Canvey, on Tuesday night at about 10.30pm.

They threatened the victim, aged in her fifties with violence before punching her a number of times.

They stole a designer watch and necklace both worth several thousands of pounds and ran off down the road.

Essex Police’s helicopter was launched to search the scene but the suspects could not be located.

Police have urged the public to report anything they saw around Papenburg Road, Somnes Avenue and Link Road.

Investigating officer, DS Paul Bird, said: "This was an extremely traumatic event for this woman and a horrifying one at that.

“She had been asleep when these men burst in and subjected her to a nasty assault. They then found a watch and chain, each worth several thousand pounds. They then ran off.

“We don’t believe they used a car so would have been seen running down Papenburg Road or towards the Somnes Avenue and Link Road roundabout junction at around 11pm. They would have stood out to passing motorists or late-night dog walkers.

“They need to be arrested and taken off the streets of Canvey Island.”

They are described as in their early 20s, with four of them white and one black. They were all wearing tracksuit tops.

The woman was treated at the scene by paramedics after sustaining a number of bruises. She is now recovering at home.

Anyone with information should call detectives at Southend police station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.