Supermarket blackmailer may be stalker

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The Independent Online

A blackmailer who sent fire bombs to the homes of customers of Tesco stores is believe to have stalked his victims from the supermarkets.

A blackmailer who sent fire bombs to the homes of customers of Tesco stores is believe to have stalked his victims from the supermarkets.

The extortionist, who has also sent threatening letters to customers in the south of England, has demanded money from Europe's biggest supermarket chain. In the most serious incident a 70-year-old man narrowly escaped injury when a package exploded as he opened it at his home in Bournemouth, Dorset, last week.

Police believe the blackmailer probably obtained the addresses of his victims by following them home after a shopping expedition. The stalking theory is considered the ''hot favourite'' by detectives because none of the threatening packages and letters have included the names of the householders, just the addresses. If the bomber had obtained details from Tesco's customer accounts he would know the names.

Three other small incendiary devices were intercepted at a postal sorting office last week after the first fire bomb was detonated. Seven threatening letters were sent to addresses in the Bournemouth and Poole areas earlier this month.

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

Since the police put out a public alert they have been called to about 60 homes to examine suspicious packages, all of which have proved to be false alarms.

[can cut from here] Detective Chief Inspector Phil James, who is leading the investigation, said: "It is now over a week since the blackmailer sent the incendiary devices.

"Since then we have heard nothing from the blackmailer despite our attempts to open lines of communication.

"Despite this gap we are urging the public not to relax their vigilance, particularly over any suspicious package they may receive."

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