Couple lay unconscious as burglars rifled through rented St Tropez home
Jenson Button and his wife Jessica Michibata were gassed at their luxury French villa as robbers looted the house and stole belongings worth £300,000.
The couple - who had been asleep - lay unconscious in bed as the burglars rifled through the rented St Tropez home, taking items including 30-year-old Jessica’s £250,000 engagement ring.
French police believe the gang had been watching the villa for days before letting off a cannister of anaesthetic gas into an air-conditioning vent.
The raiders then broke into the luxury mansion and even walked around the couple’s bed. Three friends who were staying in the rented retreat are also believed to have been rendered unconscious.
The group only discovered they had been targeted when they woke up the next morning and found the mansion ransacked and the engagement ring missing.
Button, 35, who won the Formula 1 drivers’ championship in 2009, has a £71million fortune and was ranked as the third richest British sports star in this year’s Sunday Times Sport Rich List.
A source close to the McLaren driver told The Sun: ‘Police have told Jenson they’re convinced the burglars gassed the house using the air conditioning units.
‘Over the past five years, it’s becoming an increasingly common way for top criminals to launch raids on expensive properties in the area without being disturbed.
‘Jenson is convinced that’s what happened too. The burglars were in the same room as him and Jessica, rifling through all their drawers.
‘But they weren’t disturbed at all because the effects of the gas gives the burglars free reign.
‘It was the same for their three other friends — they were all completely out of it.’
Local police interviewed Button, his friends and his wife and are believed to be continuing their investigation by trying to identify the burglars using CCTV.
A spate of gas attacks on wealthy visitors to the French Riviera has been noted for at least 15 years, including a 2002 attack in Cannes on British television personalities Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine.
The thieves are said to slip through balconies or open windows and direct the sedative into bedroom air-conditioning units.