During the night of Thursday 11th September 2008 we camped the night at a rest area in the Montpellier area of France.
We were careful to ensure that we were not isolated and there were other campers, cars and lorries also staying the night all around us...........We spoke to a friendly French couple next door to us and they also felt safer to know we were staying the night right by them.........
We cooked a lovely meal including jacket potatoes in the microwave which used lots of the power out of Nessie’s batteries and drew them down. During the night the lights tripped and as we didn’t want to disturb people in the night –we waited to sort this out in daylight.
During the early hours of Friday morning I was dramatically woken by Phil shouting at full volume...... (which is very loud). He had been disturbed by a very faint rustling noise and came to -only to see a male youth standing right there inside Nessie. As Phil screamed “RIGHT THATS IT “and jumped out of bed to grab his base ball bat - the thug (and this is my polite version) scrambled out past the steering wheel and out of the driver’s door. As we had no lights Phil took a few seconds to undo the double locked side door and got out as ‘he’ crossed the road and another thug came running from behind Nessie to join back up with him........and they were gone.......it had all happened so quickly.....
Obviously the children were awake by now and we were all very shaken by the incident. We continue not to be able to understand the mentality or nerve of this ”........... “ to be able to break and enter knowing that there were people inside ......It was all carried out so very quietly and beat all the extra security measures that we had in place ....(at that time).
Within half an hour we had established that ‘he’ had stolen Phil’s wallet, Phil’s watch (this had woken Phil as he had heard the attached chain rattle), Ben’s wallet, Jemma’s bag (including her purse) and (as we have since discovered )– a cowboy hat. (We hope that we know about everything.....)
Our friendly French neighbour telephoned the police for us and was very apologetic to us when she was told that there were no police available to send out and we could go to the next town and report it in the morning- if we liked, but they were not at all interested. The attitude of the French police has completely disgusted us, as we also asked a group of 8 policemen nearby to help us and none of them were interested either. When it became light we realised our next problem – a toll ticket that we had no cash to pay for. We talked to a couple of German lads who were parked behind us and had also slept the night, and they offered to lend us some money and then follow us to the nearest cash point to be paid back. This was really kind of them and we kept in touch car to car with our walkie- talkies.
We went and found the nearest police station and were eventually told that there was no point in writing a report because it would be in French (?). We were offered no sign of an incident number and just told to report it when we returned to England – how does this work? When we explained that this wasn’t going to be for quite some time – the French policeman stood there and shrugged his shoulders.......we found this unbelievable.........
We tracked down a Mercedes garage and Phil had mended Nessie before the end of the day and Phil’s bank cards were cancelled with one phone call to Cardguard within half an hour too.
We have all done lots of talking about this incident and probably thought of nothing else since...and “they” have been called every name under the sun. Our privacy and safety has been compromised .It will take us time to recover but we have taken this as our warning which we got away with lightly (total value £250’s worth, to date).We have learnt a BIG lesson and now have even greater security measures in place. It is now not possible for anyone to break and enter Nessie in the same way. Phil has devised noisy safety devices and chains and we have motion sensors that will be switched ON when we are in or out. We have an extra routine that we will be vigilant in conducting every single time......
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we have decided we need a dog – the best security ever-Jessie would have sorted him out. We will not let this incident ruin our adventures.......take our advice (again in Hindsight) and avoid nights on the road in France.
The next blog will continue with happier times as we catch you all up with the end of our time in Croatia........until now.
Take care until next time.......(and remember not to rely on the French police for anything).
Sunday, September 14, 2008 9:29:40 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) France