A British family on holiday were robbed of £60,000 worth of valuables after masked burglars knocked them unconscious by “pumping gas under their villa door”.
The Shaw family were on a three-week break in the Costa Blanca in Spain when son Nick, 31, woke up to see a masked figure at the end of his bed.
The man waved something in front of his face – knocking him out – and hours later the entire family woke up with headaches and feeling sick, they said.
Drawers inches from their beds were ransacked and the thieves had taken £60,000 worth of valuables – including Rolex watches, laptops and diamond rings.
The family from Slough, Buckinghamshire, claim police told them burglars had most likely pumped gas under the door to knock them out, before burgling the house.
Gail and Alfie Shaw, 69 and 68, said they’ll never return to the villa they’ve owned for 15 years.
Along with their son, Nick and his wife Hannah, 35, and their two-year-old son, they immediately left and checked into a hotel, out of fear.
Manufacturing director Gail said: “Everything they took had huge sentimental value, which is devastating, but the worst thing is that the burglars were in our villa and we couldn’t do anything about it.
“They rummaged through drawers inches from our heads – they even could have taken our grandson while we were all passed out, which is the scariest thing.
“Since we returned to the UK, we’ve felt very anxious and unsafe and we think we’ll need counselling because we’re struggling to get over what happened.
“After owning the villa for 15 years, we’ll definitely never be returning.
“It’s like something you see in a horror movie, but you never expect anything like that to happen to you – until it did.”
Nick and Hannah were visiting his parent’s villa home in the resort of Javea on the southeastern coast of Spain when the burglary happened in the early hours on September 1.
They woke late – even the toddler – to find someone had been through the villa, and valuables had gone.
Items stolen included £25,000 worth of Rolex watches, £11,000 worth of jewellery, several Apple gadgets, and thousands in cash – costing £60,000 to replace.
Gail said: “When police and forensics arrived, they told us an untraceable gas had most likely been piped under the door, or through the air conditioning system.
“That explained why we all felt so terrible the following morning, but at first, we had no idea why.”
The police crime report detailed how ‘they may have been drugged or dozed with some type of gas to perpetrate the theft, since several of the objects were stolen from the nightstands where they were asleep, just centimetres away, and no member of the family noticed the theft.’
The burglars gained entry through a kitchen window which had been smashed, according to the report.
Nick later had a hazy flashbacks to being briefly awakened during the burglary – before one of the criminals waved something in his face which knocked him out.
Nick, a company director, said: “I was in bed when I got this sense someone was watching me, so I opened my eyes.
“There was a figure stood at the end of the bed, and when he turned around I saw he was wearing a white mask with black rings for eyes
“As soon as he saw I was awake, he reached over and waved something in front of my face, and that was the last thing I remember.”
The family said police told them it was likely the “highly experienced” burglars had watched the villa for days before the burglary, to find out when they would fall asleep.
With two weeks of their holiday left, the family moved into a hotel, before they all travelled back to the UK on September 12.
Hannah, a stay-at-home mum, had even wedged a chair up against the hotel room door because they were fearful of intruders.
Gail said: “We felt absolutely horrendous at the thought someone had been watching what we were doing and following our movements, and we couldn’t bear the thought of staying in the villa for any longer.
“Even when we got to the hotel, we were too frightened to go anywhere and we just stayed in our rooms.
“We’ve all really been struggling since coming home – we’ve all felt very anxious and we’re just so glad the baby was too young to remember.
“We love Javea and we’ve been going to our villa there for more than 15 years, but after this, we’ll never go back.
“What happened to us was truly like something you’d see in a horror movie.”
Similar burglaries have reportedly been committed against celebrities such as Jensen Button, in 2015, and Richard Hammond, in 2018 – while both were on holidays in France.
The Shaw family claimed for the stolen property on their insurance and received an insurance pay-out of around £12,000.