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Robbed on Aire near Avignon


Big Momma

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I have just returned from a 23 day trip through Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and France. Because of bad weather at Geneva we left a day early and headed for our next campsite (pre-booked) at Port Grimaud. At about 7pm we had done enough driving for the day, were within 2 hours of our next site and needed some refreshments and a sleep. The Aire, just South of Avignon is a major halt with full services and was very busy throughout the night, well after the restaraunt had closed. It was well lit and we were lucky to have crept into one of the last spaces with the lorries. The area was well lit with 3 massive orange sodium lights leaving us lit up like a christmas tree. There were other Motor Homes parked up as wellso we felt reasonably comfortable.

 

Due to the extreme heat I did not get to bed until 1:30am. My wife is a very light sleeper and usually wakes up at the least movement or noise. Anyway, I had hidden the valuables, credit cards, passports, money etc.

 

At 06:30 the next morning the wife was up and berrated me for leaving the cab curtains open. I obvioiusly had not and realised then that something was not right. I checked the cab expecting to see damage, either broken glass or damaged door but everything looked okay until I saw the cab doorlocks were in the up (open) position. I did a quick check and the valuables were still in their hiding places. Obvious things that had not been hidden like DVD's, CD,s and a portable radio/cd player were still in the cupboards. The only thing that was missing was a black leather briefcase that had been behind the passenger seat but this only contained maps and Motorhome books.

 

On checking the outside of my vehicle I established that our uninvited visitors had attempted to screwdriver the caravan door but failed (at least the burst proof lock worked) resulting in a damaged lock barrel. They had gained entry via the front cab quarterlight window by simply cutting away the rubber seal and popping out the glass. This enabled them to reach inside and pull up the door locks. I can only assume that something disturbed them and that they made a quick grab at the briefcase and then legged it.

 

A foreign lorry driver (Romanian) took me to a small patch of grass no more than 10 feet away but behind another parked lorry and their I found, in one piece, my quarterlight glass. One of the other lorry drivers had found the briefcase which had also been dumped, complete with maps and books and once his colleague explained what had happened he produced it out of his cab and gave it back to me.

 

All in all I think that we were lucky, the robbers got nothing and they caused me some minor aggravation and damage. However, I had been contemplating doing my next tour using only French Aires or Motorhome Stopovers, not any more ! I will continue to stay on campsites which lend a little more in the way of security and peace of mind.

 

 

 

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Something sounds odd here ?

 

Very convenient for the other drivers to find your things. If I had been a thief why take the glass away from your vehicle and why not keep the briefcase.

 

Convenient too for the other drivers to have 'found them' and keep them in their cab. Very convenient

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I don't wish to sound unsympathetic, but the type of large trunk-road/autoroute 'rest area' you describe is exactly what motorhome and caravan owners have been persistently warned against using for overnight halts because of the heightened crime risk. (There's plenty of advice on this forum alone on the lines of "Avoid such places like the plague".) Given what might have happened, you were indeed very lucky.

 

Removal of window glass to gain entry to a vehicle is a time-honoured trick. It only works for un-bonded windows of course, but it's quick and quiet. Thieves used to cut out the hatchback window on early Golfs allowing them to reach the boot area and side-stepping simple alarm systems triggered by door-switches.

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just thinking, would the reflective blanket on the outside not help, just for the fact its something else to remove. And just for the fact light (sodium) would stream in straight away, but with the curtains, they can 'work' on the van with the cab still being in darkness
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I believe it sounds suspicious regarding the Romanian drivers. They seemed very helpfull in coming up with the missing goods.

 

You were parked right amongst them, very convenient I would suggest.

 

They would have watched you park and could easily assess that you had no dog as you didn't take it for a pee as soon as you stopped, something every dog ownere does !!

 

If you had a working alarm and it activated they could swiftly nip back into their truck and know nothing in the morning!

 

And not even attempt to assist or speak your language.

 

Robbers are opportunists, they don't advertise and they don't have ROBBER stamped on their forehead !!

 

When in suspect areas trust no one. If you're being watched, walk around with a note pad and make it look as if you're taking vehicle numbers.

 

Get your camera out and take a few pictures of those parked around you.

I did this at a Supermarche in France and a suspect van parked near me quickly dissapeared out of the park.

 

The last thing they want is to be recognised or questioned.

 

 

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Guest JudgeMental

OK so lets blame the poor Romanians rather then take responsibility for ourselves. *-)

 

As Derek says advice is abundant and clear - you need your head examined to sleep on Motorways particularly south of Paris.....

 

Fiat non bonded quarter lights are a breeze to take out and door locks easy to pop as well.

 

 

"So, to be reasonably secure on route. Best practice suggests, sleep of motorways. a cat 1 alarm which can arm exterior doors while sleeping. dead locks on cab doors and habitation door. then to enter cab the only way in is th break window and clime in....

 

I feel very sorry for you big Momma, but you are far from alone and have got of relatively lightly. I have heard a few stories this trip regards theft. one truly horrific, with a family with young children and a pregnant mother. but want to check the facts before airing and frightening everyone.....

 

"We think it was a lorry driver that robbed us."

OK Syd, the idea is to apply "enlightened self interest" and protect yourself from whoever *-)

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Guest JudgeMental
DirtyHarry - 2007-08-27 3:41 PM

 

JudgeMental - 2007-08-25 2:01 PM

 

Fiat non bonded quarter lights are a breeze to take out and door locks easy to pop as well.

 

I

Does this apply to all Fiats? or just old ones?

 

I don't know...

 

Ask a commercial dealer, You can always check on THATCHAM site for vehicle security rating. last time I looked no data on new Fiat van but old one was poor at one star (Ford 3 star)

 

whatever you buy you really need an alarm & deadlocks anyway. motorhomes are a gift to thieves as they contain so many goodies *-)

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All comments received and acknowledged. Yes I do feel a bit of a pratt because I have read all of the articles and should have known better. Hindsight being a wonderful thing of course, I should have activated my alarm (why didn't I ?)and perhaps should carry the chain to put through the arm door rests to prevent opening. A lesson learned without disasterous consequences, at least on this occasion. Of course, had we stayed at our camp site in Geneva and played Monopoly and Scrabble all day whilst it was raining then we would never have been on the road or overnighted in that French Aire. just an additional note, the day we arrived at our site in Port Grimaud we were informed by one of the site staff that we were the second to have arrived with the same damage and story of theft and on the day we left (5 days later) they smiled and told us that two others had also arrived with taped up quarterlights. On our return home the local tv news channel had a report from a couple who whilst travelling to St Tropez got robbed of everything (Money, Credit cards, passports etc).

 

By the way, our first suspicion was also the foreign lorry drivers for the same reasons as some of you have stated. However, the number of other unfortunates that were subject to similar incidents I would say that it sounds more like an organised group during the rounds.

 

My main reason for bringing this to the forum is to alert anyone else intending to travel in that region. I do not usually voluntarily advertise my own incompetence but sometimes, just sometimes, one should swallow one's pride for the benfit of others :$

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JudgeMental - 2007-08-25 2:01 PM

 

OK so lets blame the poor Romanians rather then take responsibility for ourselves. *-)

 

As Derek says advice is abundant and clear - you need your head examined to sleep on Motorways particularly south of Paris.....

 

"We think it was a lorry driver that robbed us."

OK Syd, the idea is to apply "enlightened self interest" and protect yourself from whoever *-)

 

Hi JudgeMental

No on can argue with what you have to say, well not too much, other than for you to say "poor Rumanians" as if their home circumstances excuses their thieveing habits because in my book it does not and I take exception to it.

 

I don't give a toss wether it was a poor Rumanian or a rich frog, they took our property, not theirs, OURS, and we didnt give them our permission.

 

Is it normal to expect to get robbed when you park up on what is, in all other respects, the public highway. I don't think so

This happend on our first visit to France and before we had even heard of robberies on the highways of France

 

I am still smarting quiet badly from our experience and they are not "poor Rumanians" or whatever, as far as I am concerned they are scum and deserve to be treat as such.

 

We are going back to France in 25 days time

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Big Momma - 2007-08-24 11:18 PM However, I had been contemplating doing my next tour using only French Aires or Motorhome Stopovers, not any more ! I will continue to stay on campsites which lend a little more in the way of security and peace of mind.

Eric

Rotten luck.  However, don't let this incident put you off using the proper aires - the "Aires de Services Camping-Car".  Although many of these are little better than car parks with no character or shade, some are virtual mini-campsites with full facilities and space to put out a table and chairs.

The crucial difference is that they are not on autoroutes; the nicer ones being in small towns and villages, where the locals would be more outraged than you, were you to be robbed.

However few, if any, will give the facilities and outside space of a decent campsite.  But then, they are designed primarily for short term transit use, not for longer stays.

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That part of France seem pron to theft But we realy got robed,we had parked up along side the town wall at Aigess Mortes on a hot evening and before bedding down for the night desided to go for a short stroll,on returning ,we had just got within sight of our camper when to our astonishment it started up and drove towards us,there was nothing we could do as I did not think it a good idea to try and step in front of it, and that was the last I saw of it ,we where left on the side of the road with only what we stood up in.

Petedaniel

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Syd - 2007-08-27 9:59 PM
JudgeMental - 2007-08-25 2:01 PM OK so lets blame the poor Romanians rather then take responsibility for ourselves.
Hi JudgeMental No on can argue with what you have to say, well not too much, other than for you to say "poor Rumanians" as if their home circumstances excuses their thieveing habits because in my book it does not and I take exception to it.

Syd

I think what the Judge was saying was that blaming the robbery on the Romanian truck drivers (who'd actually been helpful), just because they'd been there, without any evidence that they were involved, was unfair to them.  In that sense they were the poor Romanians, they'd been unfairly accused of being thieves.

You go on to do the same by saying they have thieving habits, without any evidence that they were the thieves.  Some Brits steal as well, you know, so are we all to be called thieving Brits on the same basis?

Life just isn't that black and white.

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Guest caraprof

Whilst not accusing any lorry drivers of anything, as I wasn't there, it is a sad fact that some countries supply a far higher proportion of Europe's criminals than others.

Romanians and Albanians are the scourge of many countries. Romanian pickpockets, many just children taught by their parents are a huge problem in some Mediterranean countries whilst Albanians are behind a vast amount of serious crime and are now operating in the U.K.

Much of their criminality is of a particularly heinous kind, such as sex trafficing and child prostitution and I have to say that should I find myself parked near anyone from these countries I would exercise greater vigilance.

There is no doubt that there are some unpleasant national traits and far different moral standards amongst certain nationalities. 

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Brian Kirby - 2007-08-28 10:37 PM
Syd - 2007-08-27 9:59 PM
JudgeMental - 2007-08-25 2:01 PM OK so lets blame the poor Romanians rather then take responsibility for ourselves.
Hi JudgeMental No on can argue with what you have to say, well not too much, other than for you to say "poor Rumanians" as if their home circumstances excuses their thieveing habits because in my book it does not and I take exception to it.

Syd

I think what the Judge was saying was that blaming the robbery on the Romanian truck drivers (who'd actually been helpful), just because they'd been there, without any evidence that they were involved, was unfair to them.  In that sense they were the poor Romanians, they'd been unfairly accused of being thieves.

You go on to do the same by saying they have thieving habits, without any evidence that they were the thieves.  Some Brits steal as well, you know, so are we all to be called thieving Brits on the same basis?

Life just isn't that black and white.

Hi BrianI have not laid the blame for our robbery at any particular race or creeds door, if my post reads that way that was not my intention but as has been said on here already "some nationalities pose greater threats than others" and the one mainly mentioned here certainly plays a lead role in this sort of thing.I am looking into making some kind of crusade out of this to see if I can get anyone in France interested in doing somthing about it bu it will have to ait until after christmas nowMy gripe is that we seem to be easy pickings and no one in France seems to be doing anything about it.I think the time has come for some kind of action to be taken to at least make the scum think twice before going out on their shopping spree's and ruining peoples life/holidays
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