Jenson Button and his wife, Jessica Michibata, were allegedly staked out, gassed and then robbed by two men on Monday. The former F1 World Champion was vacationing with his wife at their rented villa in Saint-Tropez, France, but the couple left on Tuesday following the burglary.
According to The Sun, Button, Michibata and three friends were knocked out by anesthetic gas pumped through the home’s air conditioning vents. While they slept, the two burglars entered the home overnight and stole $465,000 worth of valuables, including Michibata’s $387,000 wedding ring. The couple tied the knot in December 2014 after six years of dating.
Jessica Michibata poses with her three-stone diamond and platinum $387,000 wedding ring.
A spokesperson for Button confirmed the heist in a statement to BBC:
Two men broke into the property whilst they all slept and stole a number of items of jewellery including, most upsettingly, Jessica's engagement ring.
The police have indicated that this has become a growing problem in the region with perpetrators going so far as to gas their proposed victims through the air conditioning units before breaking in.
“The first they were aware was when they woke up groggy the next morning and realized the house had been turned upside down,” an unnamed source told The Sun. “It was a terrifying experience for them to know these criminals were actually in the room with them.”
French authorities and medical experts, however, are skeptical about the claim that gas was used in the robbery.
A spokesperson for the Royal College of Anaesthetists refused to rule out that "some sort of agent" was used to subdue Button and his friends, but that the amount of gas required to knock someone unconscious is "massive."
Philippe Guemas, deputy prosecutor in Draguignan, France, told Europe1 radio that the gas allegation came from Button's entourage after he felt (understandably) sick the day after the break-in.
"To our knowledge there has never been a burglary like this in St Tropez where gas was used to knock out the victims," he said, before adding, "We have taken blood samples, which will be analyzed."
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