Hardware distributor VLSI International has lost more than #1 million163;1 million. of computer equipment to armed robbers after its warehouse employees underwent a terrifying ordeal at gunpoint.
At 8pm on 1 May, three masked men entered the company's Hayes-based warehouse, where the manager and his assistant were handcuffed and watched at gunpoint while the thieves emptied the building of valuable memory chips and hard drives.
A Metropolitan Police representative said the robbers knew what they were doing: 'It was definitely a professional job as they knew they had a market.'
VLSI director Ian Southall said: 'The courier had just finished his collection and left before the assistant went outside. The assailants hijacked him and forced their way into the warehouse.'
The three men, armed with a sawn-off shotgun, a hand gun and a large kitchen knife, escaped in a white van with #1.3 million of hardware, leaving the two employees handcuffed to a workbench.
Southall said: 'They were told not to contact the police for 10 minutes but were able to break the bench and alert the authorities.'
VLSI International had previously lost #30,000 to thieves.
A reseller which was defrauded out of #25,000 of Toshiba laptops by a bogus building firm has managed to recoup more than half the loss from one of the leasing companies involved.
Hewlett Packard Finance had initially refused to pay #15,000 to Transam Microsystems, under the terms of a leasing agreement with a west London firm calling itself TAW Builders (PC Dealer, 11 February). But last month HP finally settled the bill.
'HP wanted to satisfy itself that the fraudsters and Transam were in no way connected,' said Transam MD Nigel Stride. 'As soon as it got a statement from Kilburn fraud squad that we were the victim, it agreed to pay up.'
Stride said a second broker, Tunbridge Wells-based Chelco, is still refusing to pay out #10,000 under a similar agreement, funded by Lombard Business Equipment Leasing, claiming the 'customer' did not confirm delivery. Transam is taking legal advice.
Chelco refused to comment.
See feature, page 34.
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