A British family had £2,000 of cash and valuables stolen by thieves at a French motorway service station. They had stopped for the night on their way to the Mediterranean, when the criminals pumped gas into their tent, and robbed the sleeping family.
According to the Daily Mail, Hayley Kearns (a 28-year-old customer services agent from Yate) was travelling with her parents, her brother Byron (20) and his girlfriend Nic James (31) at the beginning of August. They had stopped at the Aire de la Bouble on the A71 from Bourges to Clermont-Ferrand, and while their parents slept in the caravan and were not robbed, the younger members of the family spent the night in their trailer tent.
The Sun reported that none of them had an inkling anything was wrong until they woke up to find the window ripped and everything gone. The family lost £2,000 in cash, plus valuables. The thieves had also taken their keys and looted their car. The family cannot prove they were gassed, but feel certain of it - particularly as the family dog slept through the raid too.
They are one of a growing number of families who have been attacked in this way. According to the Derby Telegraph, on 8 August the Chadwick family from Oakwood in Derbyshire were gassed in their camper van as they stopped at a service station near Bourges on the same motorway on their way back from Spain. Once thieves had established they were out for the count, they stole £1,900 in cash and valuables. When they awoke they were all suffering severe headaches.
Meanwhile in July, Debbie Keeney and Bob John of Matson, Kent, were targeted in their camper van when at Lancon de Provence near Marseliles. They lost around £200 in cash, plus valuables and their passports.
All the victims said they were told by local police that there was a gang targeting service stations, who gassed and robbed tourists.
The Foreign Office is aware of the threat, and advises against sleeping in roadside rest areas or car parks in France. They say tourists with foreign licence plates are targeted on the grounds they are likely to be unfamiliar with the threats and therefore will not take precautions. They advise that tourists are far safer in proper camp sites or roadside hotels.
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