Young Boy Arrested: A young boy has been arrested in Australia after sticking needles into strawberries for ‘a prank’.
Detectives in the Australian state of New South Wales arrested him on Wednesday, but other copycats have been aping his behaviour, leading to a fruit contamination crisis.
NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said: “Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries.”
Because of the boy’s age, he will not fall foul of the state’s strict laws on fruit contamination, which can even land guilty parties with sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
However, this offender will instead enter into the state’s ‘youth cautioning system’.
However, Mr Smith said that anyone busted for copying this behaviour will ‘feel the full weight of the law’.
This comes as the punishment for crimes such as this is set to become more drastic, particularly to take into account the potential for such acts to cause harm.
That would certainly include putting needles into strawberries.
Aussie Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, spoke from the capital, Canberra, on Wednesday. He said: “Some idiot, for his own reasons, or her own reasons, has engaged in an act of sabotage.
“Now any idiot who thinks they can go out into a shopping centre and start sticking pins in fruit and thinks this is some sort of lark or something… that sort of behaviour is reckless and under the provision we will be seeking to introduce swiftly, that type of behaviour would carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.”
Under the proposed new legislation, offenders who commit crimes such as this one could face 15 years in jail, instead of up to 10.
Mr Morrison continued: “It’s not a joke, it’s not funny. You are putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk, and you are scaring children… and you’re a coward and a grub.
“And if you do that sort of thing in this country we will come after you and we will throw the book at you.
“This is a shocking and cowardly thing for this individual and others who have jumped onto the bandwagon here to have engaged in.”
The Prime Minister is hopeful that the new laws will be voted into place by parliament by the end of session on Thursday.
There are thought to be as many as 100 cases currently under investigation by the Federal Police. Thirteen people have reported finding needles in strawberries, as well as bananas and apples.
A man was rushed to hospital on 9 September as a result.
NSW Police have offered a AUD $100,000 (£54,850 / US $72,450) reward for any information leading to arrests.