Letter bomb explodes in plot to blackmail Tesco

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The Independent Online

Letter bombs have been sent to members of the public on the south coast in an attempt to blackmail the supermarket chain Tesco, police revealed yesterday.

Letter bombs have been sent to members of the public on the south coast in an attempt to blackmail the supermarket chain Tesco, police revealed yesterday.

In one case, a parcel bomb detonated after a 70-year-old man opened it at his home in Bournemouth. The man was not injured by the device contained in a padded bag when he received it on Tuesday, although police said the explosion was capable of causing a fire or injury.

The blackmailer told police yesterday that three other devices had been posted to members of the public.

Detectives recovered the suspect packages, which were being sent to addresses in Bournemouth and Poole, at a Royal Mail sorting office. Staff were evacuated as a safety precaution while officers carried out a series of searches.

Dorset police said the bombs were being linked to a blackmail demand received by a Tesco store in the Bournemouth area on 4 September.

The police refused, "for operational reasons", to disclose what the blackmailers are demanding.

Officers also said threatening letters had been received by two people in the area.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Lee said the 70-year-old man was not a Tesco employee and would not speculate onwhy he had been targeted.

He added: "The [intercepted] packages were posted somewhere in the Dorset area and when they were received they had an address but not a name on them. The typeface on the labels on the packages were similar to the typeface on the blackmail demand."

Mr Lee said police believed that the labels and the blackmail letter were printed from the same printer.

He added: "Since 4 September there have no been no other communications from the blackmailer, who failed to respond to our attempts to make contact. Dorset police are taking every possible measure to ensure their safety and apprehend the person responsible."

The director of security at Tesco, John Purnell, said: "We have no idea at all why these demands are being made; it could be any number of reasons.

"We have briefed all our staff, particularly our senior team at the stores. We have taken all appropriate measures. As far as we are concerned it is shopping as usual."

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