A young boy has been arrested by police in Australia following the discovery of dozens of needles in fresh strawberries across the country.
New South Wales Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said detectives had arrested the youngster, whose age was not confirmed, over behaviour that “could be a prank”.
“Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and he’ll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system,” the acting assistant commissioner said, according to Yahoo7.
The state currently has a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail for deliberately contaminating a food source.
An investigation was launched after sewing needles were found in dozens of punnets of strawberries across all six of Australia’s states.
Needles were also discovered in an apple and a banana, police said.
It is feared many of the incidents could be the work of copycats inspired by the initial discoveries.
The contamination crisis spread to Queensland, and as far away as Perth, Tasmania and New Zealand.
The scare prompted shelves to be cleared of fresh produce, amid claims farmers were being affected as shoppers shunned fruit.
“This is a shocking and cowardly thing for this individual and others who have jumped onto the bandwagon here to have engaged in,” the country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said on Wednesday.