A GANG of hooded teen thugs targeted young families and pubgoers by throwing glasses and hurling abuse.

Staff were forced to lock customers inside the Rayleigh Lodge, in the Chase, Rayleigh, after the group of up to 20 teenagers launched their attack on Saturday evening.

One man who was present, but has asked not to be named, said: “At approximately 9.15pm, there was a large group of teenagers being loud near the pub.

“They then began to throw glasses and terrorise the people sitting outside the pub in the front beer garden.

“The teens were throwing bits of glass and attempted to injure people with the smashed glass.

“Fortunately, nobody was hurt as far as I know, but two phones were smashed. The police were called in but the gang ran away before they got there.

“Descriptions are difficult as they all had hoods up and it was dark.”

Witnesses reported how pub staff were forced to lock customers in the pub for their own safety, until the gang dispersed.

It is understood the group is the same gang of teenagers who have been tormenting Rayleigh residents over a number of weeks.

Gareth James, chairman of the Rayleigh Residents’ Association, said: “This group regularly hang out in that area - I don’t know what kicked off this particular incident but I believe it was just someone standing up to them.

“There were children there who have been left traumatised - it is not acceptable and something needs to be done.

“This group is getting so confident that the courts aren’t taking action, they feel they can get away with doing things like this.

“It’s only a matter of time before this group do something really dangerous to someone.

“And then residents will start taking matters into their own hands.

“People are sick to death of their properties being damaged and feeling unsafe on the streets.”

A police spokesman confirmed they received a call about the incident, but no suspects were found or arrested.

The spokesman for Essex Police added: “We were called around 9.15pm on Saturday, May 18 with reports of anti-social behaviour on The Chase, Rayleigh involving a group of around 15 young people.

“Officers attended and searched the area, but did not find the group.

“No further crimes were reported.

“We encourage the community to report incidents of anti-social behaviour by calling 101. In an emergency always dial 999.”

Mr James is urging any concerned residents to attend the next meeting with Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst at the Grange on May 28.