FORMULA One driver Jenson Button and his wife Jessica were gassed in their sleep by burglars who raided their room as they lay unconscious.
The pair were staying with friends in a villa in St Tropez on the French Riviera when thieves broke into the villa after pumping anaesthetic gas into the property through its air conditioning vents.
They stole valuables that are worth more than £300,000, including Mrs Button’s £250,000 engagement ring.
Police reportedly suspect a pair of criminals carried out the raid after staking out the property where Mr Button was staying for days beforehand.
“The burglars were in the same room as him and Jessica, rifling through all their drawers,” a source was reported as saying.
“But they weren’t disturbed at all because the effects of the gas gives the burglars free rein.”
He added: “The first they were aware was when they woke up groggy the next morning and realised the house had been turned upside down.”
There were reportedly three other people in the property at the time who were also affected by the gas.
The investigation into tracking down the burglars is said to be centred on CCTV footage taken from the area.
It is believed the thieves made off with more than £300,000 worth of the couple’s possessions.
The group were unharmed but have been left “unsurprisingly shaken by the events”, a spokesman for Mr Button said.
“Jenson, Jessica and friends were on holiday in a rented villa in St Tropez when on Monday evening 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,” he added.
“The police have indicated that this has become a growing problem in the region with perpetrators gassing their proposed victims through the air conditioning units before breaking in.”
Mrs Button’s ring was reportedly five carats with a large teardrop diamond set in a diamond-encrusted platinum band.
Mr Button, who drives for McLaren Honda, married his model wife in Hawaii in December.
On New Year’s Eve both the former Formula One world champion, from Frome, Somerset, and the Japanese-Argentine model tweeted: “Happy New Year from Mr & Mrs Button!! We’re excited to see in the New year with family and loved ones, we hope you’re too!”
It has been reported that the 35-year-old F1 driver will join Chris Evans as co-host on the newly reinvented BBC motoring show Top Gear, after Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s departure.
St Tropez in the south of France has long been a popular destination for the rich and famous.
It is not the first time gas has been mentioned in reference to a burglary in a wealthy area of the country.
In 2006 footballer Patrick Vieira, his wife and daughter were the victims of a raid on their family home near Cannes.
The family complained of feeling unwell after the burglary and it was later confirmed gas had been pumped into the air conditioning system of the house to keep them asleep while jewellery was stolen.