While on holiday in St.Tropez, Richard Hammond and his family were subject to an audacious burglary. The couple were staying in a villa with their children and several guests when thieves broke in and stole cash from the 15 occupants and youngest daughter Willow’s watch.
“It wasn’t until myself and the other mums were taking the kids to the beach that Richard called and said, ‘Have you looked in your purses?’,” Richard’s wife Mindy told The Sunday Express. “We all looked in our purses and wallets and all the cash had gone. Nothing else had been stolen,” she added.
Upon waking Mindy - a columnist for the publication - had noticed that the doors of everyone’s bedrooms were open, but no one had been disturbed during the night, it seems. “I’m pretty convinced we must have been gassed or something, because they were in all of the bedrooms – they went where they wanted, into each room, opening and closing the drawers, searching through handbags etc,” she said.
Rumours of the use of knockout gas in burglaries targeting the wealthy around the French Riviera town began to circulate a few years ago. Jenson Button claimed that he and then-wife Jessica Michibata were gassed and then robbed in 2015, although nothing was ever proven. Experts haven’t been convinced by such claims, given the absence of the side effects and odour usually associated with substances like chloroform, plus the difficulty and expense of handling such materials. In the case of the Hammonds, the criminals may have just been extremely quiet.
The thieves also targetted a neighbouring property and were caught on CCTV. Police officers were said to be patrolled the area the following night, while the Hammonds and their guests employed a security guard for the remainder of their stay.