Customers targeted by Tesco blackmail bomber

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The Independent Online

A blackmailer trying to extort money from a Tesco supermarket is sending postal bombs and threatening letters to the store's customers, police revealed yesterday.

A blackmailer trying to extort money from a Tesco supermarket is sending postal bombs and threatening letters to the store's customers, police revealed yesterday.

Detectives are trying to establish how the extortionist obtained the home addresses of the customers and are investigating whether the attacksare being carried out by a disgruntled member of staff.

All the targets have been in the Bournemouth and Poole area of Dorset. In the most serious case a 70-year-old man was badly shaken, but uninjured, on Tuesday after a package exploded at his home in Ferndown, Bournemouth. Three small incendiary devices were intercepted at a postal sorting office, and about seven other people have been sent threatening letters. They were all addressed to the homes of Tesco customers.

Tesco originally received a blackmail letter at one of its local stores on 4 September in which the supermarket was asked for cash, but no total was given.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Lee, of Dorset Police, said: "The reason for singling out the supermarket chain is at this time unclear and our inquiries into any motive are being investigated. Our attempts to make contact with the blackmailer have been unsuccessful."

Mr Lee added that at present he could not reveal how and why the blackmailer had apparently picked his victims.

John Purnell, director of security for Tesco, denied the company's customer database was being used by the blackmailer to find customers' addresses.

He said: "Like the police we do not know why only Tesco customers have been targeted, but we have already taken all of the necessary steps to keep all our customers fully informed and aware of what they need to do if they receive a suspicious package."

He added: "Life goes on and shopping goes on. We need to front this out."

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