Strawberry needle crisis: Boy arrested in NSW as fresh cases of fruit contamination reported across Australia
COPYCATS and pranksters who insert pins and needles into fruit are being hunted by police, with one boy already arrested in NSW while fresh cases continue to emerge across Australia.
Needles have been found in more than 20 punnets of strawberries across NSW and potentially 100 pieces of fruit across the nation in the week since the sabotage was first detected in Queensland.
WA Police are investigating 19 reported cases of needles found in strawberries.
NSW Police on Wednesday announced a $100,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction for contaminated fruit.
One young boy has already been arrested over behaviour that “could be called a prank“, police said, and he would be dealt with under the youth cautioning system.
In a separate case, a 12 -year-old girl will also be cautioned after admitting to putting a needle in a piece of fruit.
A nine-year-old Tasmanian boy has reportedly found a metal pin inside an apple.
Police were told of the alleged contamination incident on Wednesday afternoon, after the boy discovered the pin while eating a Royal Gala apple bought from Huonville Woolworths on Monday.
The pin has been seized by detectives who say they are co-operating with other jurisdictions in investigating the incident.
Reports also emerged on Wednesday evening of another contaminated banana in Newcastle.
A police source told AAP they were mindful of confirming specific cases for fear of inspiring more copycats.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Scott Morrison is moving to rush harsher penalties through parliament that could see “food terrorists” face 15 years in prison as the strawberry industry is brought to its knees.