Fact or fiction?
I came across a report, you may have read it. It was about a couple who claim to have been gassed and robbed while asleep in their motor-home in the in the South of France. Now this is not new. There have been a number of these reports over the years. Unfortunately the two accounts I've read raised more questions than they answered. And many caravanners are sceptical. A chap I once got into a conversation with thought me fool hardy I didn’t have gas detectors fitted, a bugler alarm and carry a baseball bat. Which left me wondering why he'd left the comparative safety of his own drive way.
So, fact or fiction?. Well first let me say I can quite understand someone's astonishment at waking up in the morning only to discover someone’s stolen the pyjamas they went to bed in. And perhaps claiming you're the victim of a gas attack, and not you slept though a robbery because you were knackered having driven down from Calais has more kudos and, I dare say, looks better on the insurance claim form.
So let's look at this from a practical point of view. How easy is it to actually do? Well you first problem is getting hold of a 'knock out gas'. The gas that frequently laid Batman and Robin low, sadly, doesn’t exist. A local law enforcement agency didn’t know this when, during the Waco siege some years ago, they called for some to render those inside harmlessly unconscious. They were told, by the FBI, that no such gas existed and advise the Waco police department to perhaps watch less TV.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is the stuff dentists use. It would seem a good choice. But I've yet to read a report were a camper has awoken in fits of laughter only to discovered two giggling robbers at work. Chloroform acts within seconds, provided the method of delivery has sufficient concentration and the user takes deep enough breaths. A sleeping person's breathing is quite shallow. Ether is an extremely pungent gas which lingers for days. It's also relatively weak and has a irritant affect. It will cause coughing and sometimes vomiting. Interestingly, when asked, the Royal collage of Anaesthetists said: Any of the currently used anaesthetic agents would wake a sleeping individual.
But lets say you found one. Your problem how is how much do you administer? Fill the van and hope for the best? The dose varies. A small person needs less than a larger person. By the time the chap is under his wife and dog are dead. Anaesthetising someone is a very delicate and potentially highly dangerous operation. Ask the Russians. A knock-out gas was used in the Moscow hostage crisis in 2002. It worked. It rendered the terrorists unconscious, unfortunately it also killed a hundred of the hostages.
But lets say you go for broke, pour it all in. The couple that were recently gassed said the sink waste was used as a point of entry. Now gas being heavier than air, with one of two exception, would have dropped, not risen. It would have had to fill the waste tank first and, if that was open, it may well have escaped. Worth remembering here motor-homes/caravans are far from being airtight. Just drop one in a river and see how quick it sinks. The gas, while your pouring in, is leaking out through fire, fridge and cooker vents and perhaps even a window. And supposing you managed all that. You then have to break into the gas filled van, ransack it all without feeling any ill effects of the gas yourself.
But if you ask me you can forget all the above because, if its really that simple, why have there been so few reports? Why only a handful over several years? And more importantly, bearing in mind just how potential dangerous this can be, why have no campers ever died from a bodged attempt?
I doubt it has any truth to it and is just another urban legend.