E-cig tycoon offers £250,000 reward to catch raiders . . . and that figure's rising

10 January 2014  THE tycoon behind the Totally Wicked e-cig empire is so determined to catch raiders who attacked him at his home that he’s offering a reward of AT LEAST £250,000.
Multi-millionaire Jason Cropper, 48, says he’ll add an extra £5,000 every week until he gets information leading to the conviction of gang members who made off in his Range Rover with gold bars and other valuables.. He has also hired a private investigator to help track them down.
“To me, the money is irrelevant,” he said. “It is nice to have, but is not particularly important. What is important is that the people are caught.”
Mr Cropper, who lives alone, was tied up when four masked raiders, armed with crowbars, burst into his £750,000 home in the Lancashire village of Samlesbury (Samlesbury).
They struck last August as he let his cat out at the large four-bedroom stone property, which features several garden areas, a two-acre paddock and a guest suite in an adjacent barn.
He suffered head injuries and could not walk properly for a week after being hit and dragged along the ground.
He said he believed the group thought he had £4million of gold in his house, which he had recently bought.
After dousing him with bleach and covering his head with a towel, the attackers made off with his £60,000 Range Rover.
Inside it were  two gold bars worth around £50,000, plus three watches and £70,000 in cash from his home. The car was later found burnt out.
Mr Cropper founded the e-cig company Totally Wicked in Blackburn, Lancashire, in 2008, built it into a global empire, and stood down as CEO last June.
He quit after he declined to retract comments he made in contoversial emails about e-cig icensing to a member of European Parliament and an official from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Mr Cropper said the reward was higher than the value of the items taken, but he was more concerned about catching those responsible.
He said: “I am hoping the reward will just give us one piece of factual evidence.
“Maybe somebody has bought one of the watches or been offered one of the gold bars. I need this strong bit of evidence.”
He added that he believed the gang, which was made up of four people, had at least two accomplices and that he was willing to offer £25,000 for information that led to each of their arrests.
That figure will also increase by £2,500 each week until their conviction.
Mr Cropper said he believed that one of the attackers had a Liverpool accent and that other gang members could be from Accrington and Blackburn.
He added he thought the robbers were known to him because of how well they knew his house.
A police investigation was launched, but Mr Cropper has now hired a private investigator to look into the incident.
Since the attack, on August 1 last year, he has spent around £20,000 on advanced security, including 10 cameras, lights, 8ft fencing, a monitored alarm system and a guard dog.
Mr Cropper said he had felt scared and paranoid to be in his home since the robbery.
He said: “It is a personal thing. I am not going to be a victim and I am not going to allow anybody to walk all over me.
“I do not care if I have to sell the house. These people will be found.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said officers had been made aware of the reward.
He said: “An investigation is ongoing and police are obviously treating the robbery very seriously.
“We are doing everything we can to try and trace the offenders.
“I would appeal for any witnesses to come forward.”
Anybody with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.