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NSW detectives believe all the incidents of fruit contamination in the state have been the work of copycats and pranksters and have vowed offenders will feel the full weight of the law.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith on Wednesday announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone who’s contaminated fruit in NSW.

He also revealed that investigators believe the original sabotage was confined to three strawberry brands sold in Queensland.

“What we’ve seen in the state (of NSW) we believe is the work of copycats and pranksters, we’ve got to deal with it though, the way we deal with any crime,” Mr Smith told reporters in Sydney.

Young person arrested

It is unclear if it was a boy or girl that pulled the prank on friends at school.

The acting assistant commissioner said detectives had already arrested one young person over behaviour that “could be called a prank”.

“Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and they’ll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system,” he said.

In NSW the maximum penalty for deliberately contaminating a food source is 10 years in jail.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced urgent and harsh new commonwealth criminal penalties for contaminating food.

Further cases of sabotage

An extra three cases have been reported, including one in Newcastle involving a needle in a banana which was packed in a child’s lunchbox, and two more strawberry contamination reports in Tasmania, one of them involving a two-year-old girl. Also apples were found in Tasmania to contain needles.

We will continue to update as the incidents unfold.

Share your comments below.

  • If some of these copycats can see what might happen to them, maybe they won’t do it in the first place.

    Reply

  • Seriously? What is wrong with people! This is not funny, people could get seriously hurt!

    Reply

  • Why do people do these sorts of things. It’s getting ridiculous and so very dangerous

    Reply

  • This just seems to be spreading. Who, in their right mind thinks to do this, or that it is funny? It’s gone way too far now and I think we all need to be vigiland with our fruit.

    Reply

  • Kids often find it hard to identify what’s a funny prank and what isn’t … But still…

    Reply

  • I’m glad we are finally getting to the bottom of this.

    Reply

  • I am finding it hard to get my head around the ‘copy cat’ thing, can’t be that simple, no one goes around copying other crimes do they? I am still suspicious it may not be organized terrorism. Let’s see what the police come up with, maybe they are just saying this now to not worry people. Just cut your fruit before you eat.

    Reply

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