A FAMILY’S dreams of travelling around Europe have been shattered after their camper van was stolen.

Simon Culligan’s cherished Volkswagen Westfalia, which could cost up to £25,000 to replace, was the second vehicle of its kind to be taken in Oxfordshire in just over a week.

Mr Culligan, 40, was planning to collect the van from the garage at the weekend, after a year-and-a-half project to restore the vehicle.

He said: “The guy who restored it has done a really excellent job – the sad thing is that it was so close to me getting it back.”

Mr Culligan, of Oxford Street, Woodstock, said: “We had planned to go around Europe in it next summer. We had plotted out a route and have a map in the kitchen.

“We were all ready to go – the kids are sad as they love camping.”

Mr Culligan’s wife Beatrice, 37, daughter Nicole, six, and four-year-old son Matt planned to visit family members in France and Amsterdam during the six-week holiday.

He believes a trailer must have been used in the theft as the camper did not have an engine or brakes.

Thieves took the white 1972 Type 2 Westfalia van, which was parked outside Greg White Bodyshop, in Crawley Mill, Witney, between 6pm on Thursday, October 29 and 6.30am on Friday, October 30.

The following weekend, between Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8, a vehicle of the same make and year was stolen from the VW Camper Comp-any, in Oxford Road, Adderbury.

Mr Culligan, who bought the van three years ago for £1,500 and spent more than £8,000 restoring it, added: “I am sure it is someone local who has taken them as they have been taken within 20 miles of each other. Someone must have been watching.”

Anyone with any information about either theft should call police on 08458 505505 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.