THIEVES gassed a couple on holiday in France and stole all their valuable belongings while they slept in their camper van.

Pensioners Diane Bezer and Geoff Sillito woke up to find £1,200 missing, as well as their passports, bank-cards, mobile phones, and satellite navigation system.

They parked their camper van at a free layby near Brigade Autoneme de Mauguire in Southern France.

They were travelling to see Diane's daughter Amber who owns a holiday home in La Croix Valmer.

They settled down to sleep at about 3am, but six hours later they awoke to the nightmare of discovering all their possessions had been stolen.

Diane, of Winterbourne Bassett, said: "When we woke up everything was gone.

"We didn't know what to do. I almost collapsed."

"I felt like I had a tooth out and had a really woozy feeling. The gas had an effect because we didn't wake up until 9am - we always wake up at 7am."

"It is so awful as I still feel traumatised and can't get it out of my mind."

The couple rushed to the police station and were told they had been gassed, which is a common ploy used during robberies in France.

Diane suspects the thieves may have sprayed the gas through the camper's vents.

The gas allowed the thieves to raid the van without fear of waking the couple.

They even took Diane's handbag, which contained about £100 worth of make-up, from her bed.

Diane's bankcard has been fraudulently used 20 times since it was stolen.

The couple do not know how the thieves got into the camper van as it was fully locked and alarmed.

The pair who returned from their five-week trip on Tuesday night wants to warn other holidaymakers about the dangers of gassing.

"We carried on with our holiday but it was ruined," said Diane. "I couldn't sleep at night because I kept thinking I was breathing gas."

"I want to stop this happening to someone else and to warn others about the risks."

Diane, who takes medication for her heart and blood pressure, says that she is surprised the gas did not have an adverse affect on her health.

She recommends that campers should not park at free laybys for the night in France, but choose official camping sites instead.

Geoff and Diane, who are getting married next month, assumed it was safe as other vans and lorries were there.

A UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said it had received reports of other British holidaymakers being gassed in France and has issued advice on its website.

"This isn't a new type of incident," said the spokesman. "We've had calls about this in the past and we warn against this type of crime."

Diane's daughter Amber had to lend her mother money for the rest of the holiday after the robbery.