The armed gang got away with over 100,000 CDs including copies of Encarta, Windows 95 and Office 97. What is of equal concern to Microsoft is that over 200,000 Certificates of Authentication (COA) were also taken and this will help the gang pass off the stolen software as legitimate product.
Microsoft is convinced it will track down the disks quickly. Each disk is individually coded and its origin can be traced. Despite the fact that disks and COAs were taken, documentation wasn't.
"If anybody is offered cheap UK versions of Encarta without documentation, they are buying stolen goods," said Richard Teversham, Microsoft's consumer product marketing manager. "It's as simple as that."
He added that "Encarta is currently selling like hot cakes and we know the majority of people will go through the normal channels to buy product. There is no way our retailers will take any cheap unauthorised copies of Encarta so we are not expecting this theft to effect the British market. So where will the stolen disks be sold? Abroad? Car boot sales? We don't know yet but as soon as one disk is found Microsoft and the police will come down on the source like a ton of bricks."
Teversham added that if any suspicious products were found, people should phone the anti-piracy hotline on 0345-002000 x.999.