More than 100 Australians say they've found needles hidden in strawberries and other fruit

  • Australian police are investigating more than 100 reports of people hiding needles in strawberries and other fruit.
  • The problem has accelerated since September 9 when a man swallowed part of a needle hidden in a strawberry.
  • Police have only arrested one person so far, a child, and think the trend is getting worse because of copy-cats who have heard about it on the news.
  • Australia's parliament is considering passing new legislation to punish the crime more harshly.

More than 100 people in Australia have reported finding needles and other shards of metal in strawberries and other fruit across the country, according to the Australian government.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters on Wednesday that he was aware of 100 reports, according to Australia's ABC News.

The phenomenon — which has put people off buying strawberries and has thrown Australia's fruit industry into chaos — has been worsening over the past week.

Yesterday news outlets reported that people had found needles in an apple and a banana as well.

Of the 100 reports, ABC noted that some may be mistakes or false alarms. Cases have been recorded in most parts of the country.

This is a map of many of the incidents, compiled by news.com.au.

 

Needle apple aus7 News/Youtube

Lawmakers in Australia are considering new legislation to more harshly punish people for putting needles in fruit.

According to Britain's Daily Telegraph, the government is due to hold a vote Thursday to increase the prison sentence for those found guilty of hiding needles from 10 years to 15. 

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that anyone who would hide a needle in fruit is "a coward and a grub." He said:

"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."

"You are 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."

The Western Australian state government is offering a $100,000 reward for information, and Queensland's government did the same earlier in September.

So far two people have visited hospital with abdominal pain after swallowing shards of metal concealed in fruit. 

Police have said they arrested a young person who admitted to hiding a needle.

On Wednesday New South Wales' Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said: "In the last two 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," according to news.com.au reported. 

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