A family burgled twice in a week by raiders wearing Halloween masks have urged the council to scrap its light switch-off policy.

As couple Darren Zaiden and Billy Joe-Davey and their six year-old daughter Brooke Davey-Zaiden slept upstairs on May 15, burglars entered and ransacked their home.

Snatching electricals and a Cartier watch, they made off in the family's Ford Fiesta.

Eight days later Mr Zaiden was woken by a noise on the ground floor of the Grosvenor Drive home.

The 33 year-old said: "I started to go downstairs to find a masked man at the bottom of the stairs. He ran away. There was three in total.

"The men were wearing masks and had gloves on. One of them was wearing a Halloween mask."

In addition to losing around £17,000 of valuables, the couple have been left with the job of reassuring a frightened daughter.

Mr Zaiden added: " My daughter at first wasn't doing very well.

"We told her that the people have been caught and are now locked up. It is a little white lie.

"It is scary enough for me as a 6', 33 year-old guy. It really was a traumatic time for her."

The family are amongst an increasing number of Loughton residents affected by burglars.

In the first four months of this year, 88 burglaries were recorded by Essex Police in the town - almost double during the same period in 2017.

Mr Zaiden believes that the spike is in part down to Essex County Council's recent policy of switching off streetlamps from 12am to 5am.

He said: "It is pitch black outside.. You can do anything out there.

"If there were lights on people could be seen more. It would be a huge deterrent."

Anyone who saw suspicious behaviour in the area around the time of the incident or who may have seen the vehicle after it was stolen, is asked to contact DC Robert Guiney at Loughton CID on 101, quoting reference 42/71238/18.

Information can also be passed completely anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information.

Essex County Council was contacted for comment.