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No Laughing Matter: UK Motorhomers facing new dangers in France
At Comfort Insurance we have spent years providing our readers with advice on how to stay safe on their motorhome holidays. However, it’s an unfortunate fact that no matter how safe you are thieves will always come up with new ways to break into motorhomes, especially when they are parked in secluded areas. Recently, there has been a spate of attacks on motorhomes in French service stations, and while this has happened in previous years the thieves are starting to use new and startling methods…
Laughing Gas Controversy
Just last week it was reported that a British family were targeted by thieves during their motorhome holiday, however the most concerning thing is that they claim that they had been drugged while sleeping in their motorhome so that the thieves could steal their possessions. Nick Turner was driving to Switzerland with his family when he decided to stop for the night at a service station just off the A4 near Metz in France. After falling asleep his motorhome was broken into and robbed, however not one of his family members woke up. He said: “We believe the thieves pumped laughing gas in through the vents to knock us out. They then ransacked our motorhome with us inside.
“Nobody heard them breaking in through the main door and we were out that cold that they then broke out through another door. It is still amazing to think none of us stirred or heard a sound. All in all, about £2,000 worth of goods and cash was taken. We even had a toothbrush stolen along with an iPad and my son’s Sony PlayStation. But the worst part is the intrusion and not knowing what happened. None of us had any idea it was happening and that is very frightening indeed. It was shocking to be the victim of such a crime and it can only be a matter of time before a small child is killed by these thieves as we all know gas kills.”
Service Station Dangers
The Turner family are not the first to be ‘gassed’ and robbed by thieves whilst resting at a service station in France. In fact, a few weeks previous the Chadwick family from Oakwood, Derby experienced a similar situation after they stopped at a service station on the A71 near Bourges. He said: “We all woke up at around 6am, with headaches and really sore throats. We then realised we had been robbed. We were all in shock – it was so awful.”
However, even though both families claim that they had been ‘gassed’ the Royal College of Anaesthetists has questioned this. They said: “It would not be possible to knock someone unconscious by blowing gas through the window of a motorhome without their knowledge, even if they were sleeping.”
Staying Safe on the Road
After this spate of attacks the Foreign Office published a report saying: “Avoid parking in isolated areas of unsupervised camping grounds, and consider installing an alarm in your caravan or mobile home.” The Caravan Club also released a similar statement alerting motorhome and caravan owners to the dangers of stopping in French motorway stations.
The issue for many motorhome owners is that there isn’t always a safe place to stop while travelling long distances, especially if most of your route is via motorways. However, no motorhome owner should risk their safety by staying in a French service station as there are a number of campsites and caravan parks in France where you can rest for the night. If you are planning on driving through France – or any country for that matter – over the next few weeks it is advisable for you to plan regular stops at official campsites in order to stay safe.
Unfortunately, motorhomes are often vulnerable in secluded areas as thieves take more chances when they think no-one is around. If you have no other choice but to stay somewhere secluded make sure you follow the Foreign Office’s advice and invest in some sort of alarm system that will alert you if someone tries to break into your vehicle – whether you are inside it or not.
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