A police spokesperson has confirmed that 500 officers and four helicopters have been called in after thieves pulled off the largest loyalty points heist in British history this afternoon. Shortly after 4pm on Sunday, criminals rammed an unmarked and armoured Renault Partner van into the main doors of the Tesco Extra store in Southend On Sea. They quickly loaded cases containing more than 200 million Clubcard points into the back before speeding off down the A127 towards London – cops are calling for witnesses to come forward.
Det Ins Clive Parchment said: ‘We are convinced that this is an inside job as the thieves knew that the points were due to be transferred to the Tesco Extra in Pitsea this afternoon under armed guard. We are studying CCTV to try and gather intelligence, but in the meantime we have told members of staff and the general public to remain vigilant for anyone making very large purchases and paying with Clubcard points in the near future. This crime could be incredibly costly to the supermarket chain, and if they double them up and use them for toys or electrical goods the consequences will be very serious. Enough points have been stolen to take the entire population of Scotland to Alton Towers for a day, and so it is essential that we catch up with the culprits as soon as possible.’
This is just the latest in a long line of Clubcard-related crimes to be reported in South Essex within the last few months. In April, a Romanian organised crime syndicate was caught collecting receipts from the Basildon Mayflower Tesco car park and taking them to the customer services desk to get the points added to their own accounts. More worryingly, in March a checkout operator in their Shoeburyness store was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allowing a customer to earn points when buying infant milk formula and a Lotto ticket – this was upgraded to a Category 1 crime by a panel of Supreme Court Judges last year.