Police enquiries are ongoing following a robbery at the weekend, but residents have said they are unhappy with the officers handling of the situation.
A teenager was held at knifepoint at 10.40pm on Friday when two men, believed to be aged 18 to 20, approached three 16-year-olds as they walked close to a railway bridge in Alderton Hall Lane in Loughton.
The boys were also threatened with a baseball bat as they were forced to hand over their belongings, including an Armani bag, a wallet and an iPhone.
Comments left on the Guardian’s website suggest people are not happy with the police after Investigating Officer Stephen Baker urged residents to be vigilant, to stick to main roads and to avoid taking shortcuts.
Epping Forest District councillor for Loughton Roding, Stephen Murray, said: "A very serious incident that needs to be treated very urgently.
"The police need to find these offenders and the law punish them.
"Yes people need to take care but I find the comments of the investigating officer that this is a short cut that people should avoid as a complete misunderstanding of the geography of the local area.
"Does he really expect parents from the Oakwood Hill estate walking to the Alderton School or the many residents from the Barfields area who use the recreation ground to use any other route?
"No a much better response would be for the police to increase their patrols in this area and / or locate a mobile CCTV camera in the area."
Agreeing with Cllr Murray, BelieveBJ said: “I agree, my neighbours son was assaulted on Friday evening in Epping at the rear of the council offices.
"The police were not informed, what is the point!."
'Mr boss' said: "They recently put signs up which You can see in the picture saying CCTV in operation but there are no cameras there. There was a attack there New Year's Eve [and] now this.
"Why don't they actually put cameras there and leave the lights on when it's dark instead of telling people not to take short cuts!"
Essex Police have been contacted for comment.