JENSON Button and his wife Jessica lay unconscious and defenceless in bed as burglars ransacked their room and took her £250,000 engagement ring, The Sun reports. The couple were gassed in their sleep by raiders at a holiday villa they were renting in the south of France. Police believe two experienced criminals pumped an anaesthetic gas into the property through its air conditioning vents.
Then, confident that Formula One star Jenson and the other occupants were out cold, they broke into the mansion in Saint-Tropez. The intruders helped themselves to possessions worth more than £300,000. The items included Jessica’s five-carat engagement ring — a three-stoned large teardrop design diamond set in a diamond-encrusted platinum band.
McLaren driver Jenson, 35 — who has a £71million fortune and is hotly tipped to be a new co-presenter of TV’s Top Gear — paid around £250,000 for the ring. He was gassed while in bed with model wife Jessica Michibata while three friends, who were on holiday with them, slept in other rooms. Last night a source close to the former world champ said: “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 rein.
“It was the same for their three other friends — they were all completely out of it. “The first they were aware was when they woke up groggy the next morning and realised the house had been turned upside down. “It was a terrifying experience for them to know these criminals were actually in the room with them.” Jenson, Jessica, 30, and the friends were so shaken up by the raid on Monday night that they left the villa the following day.
They were told the robbers were likely to have staked out the house for their entire stay. The source added: “The police believe there were two criminals working together on the operation. “They were scoping out the property for the days before the raid and looking at the times Jenson and the others were coming and going from the house. “What’s particularly terrifying for Jenson is that there were a couple of nights where the lads stayed out later and it was the girls left at the house alone.
“But police think it’s likely the robbers went ahead with the plan only when they knew everyone at the house was fast asleep. “They wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible once they’d spoken to police.” “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.
“Whilst unharmed, everyone involved is unsurprisingly shaken by the events.” Jenson and Jessica, who grew up in Japan, married in December, after a long courtship that began when they met in 2008. He dedicated his World Championship win to her the next year. Jenson was ranked the third richest British sports star in this year’s Sunday Times Sport Rich List. He was topped only by current Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and footballer Wayne Rooney.
Button’s racing future is unclear, with talk of a move to Williams for the next season instead of partnering Fernando Alonso. Jenson, who has had 15 Grand Prix wins, made his Formula One debut for Williams in 2000. He then moveds on to Benetton/Renault, BAR, which became Honda and then Brawn, and finally McLaren.