New South Wales Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Stuart Smith spoke at a press conference in Sydney recently where he referred to the youngster as a "he" when revealing that a child had been caught placing needles into strawberries. Since then, it has been understood that Smith misspoke and the child is a girl.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the girl placed a needle into a strawberry before showing it off to her friends at her NSW Blue Mountains school. One of the school children reportedly told a teacher, who then called police. The girl was reportedly interviewed in her home before she confessed.
The police commissioner told reports in Sydney, "Obviously, in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries."
He claimed that the child would be dealt with under the youth cautioning system but the behaviour would be "called a prank". He warned that any further copycat cases would be dealt with harshly.
"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,” he said."
The Attorney-General has stated that there have now been more than 100 cases of reported sabotage across the country. The scare originated in Queensland before spreading to Tasmania and Western Australia.
A primary school student in Newcastle also recently found a needle inside a banana.