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Gunmen grab £1m Compaq machines

Lorry driver held hostage in armed robbery

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Updated Armed thieves made off with £1 million worth of Compaq kit on Saturday after disguising themselves as police officers and holding a lorry driver hostage. The driver was stopped on the M6 near Knutsford, Cheshire, by what he thought were officials or police. He was ordered out of the Scannia lorry at gunpoint, and three men bundled him into the boot of their car. His ordeal lasted six hours and he was finally abandoned in Warwickshire, near junction 12 of the M40 at 9.15pm. A total of 1450 Compaq laptops were stolen. The man, who Cheshire police refused to name but was reported to be Claus Weichert, had been driving the Compaq kit to Ayrshire, Scotland. The 41-year-old driver was not physically injured, but was said to be seriously distressed by the incident. The lorry was found empty and abandoned the next day on the M40 in Oxfordshire. Police said the hijackers were dressed in black trousers, white shirts and green luminous vests. Two of the gang were white and a third was black. Their grey car had a strobe light fitted inside, which fooled the lorry driver into thinking they were police officers. Cheshire police were today appealing for witnesses who saw the blue and white lorry on Saturday or Sunday. A police representative issued a plea to the computer industry: "We are especially keen to hear from anyone in the IT industry. This is a large number of machines to store, and they would only be stolen if there was a market for them." Now, it transpires the haul was the property of Inventec, the company which builds Compaq notebooks -- and not the Big Q itself. Compaq told The Register last night that the kit pinched in transit was on its way to Inventec's factory in Scotland. However, the robbers only made off with base parts –- the basic box of the laptop, without keyboard, software and hard drive, according to Compaq. Although the product was destined for destined for Compaq customers, Compaq stressed that it had not bought the kit from Inventec at the time of the robbery, therefore making the loss Inventec's. ® Information can be given confidentially about the robbery on 0800 555 111

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