Young Boy Arrested for Putting Needles in Strawberries in Copycat 'Prank'

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Police did not name the boy. 

A young boy has been arrested in Australia after allegedly admitting to putting needles inside strawberries in what's been described as a copycat prank.

"In the last few days, we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries," New South Wales Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said.

"He’ll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system," he added. Police did not name the boy. 

Consumers in Queensland had been told to return or discard packages of strawberries after a customer was rushed to a hospital for swallowing part of a needle in a strawberry. 

Hoani van Dorp Hearne was hospitalized for treatment of "severe abdominal pains," according to a friend, Joshua Gane, who posted about the incident on Facebook earlier this month.

It's believed a disgruntled employee was behind the initial contamination, but copycats have since sprung up around the country. 

Needles have been found in an apple and a banana, as well in over 20 containers of strawberries, police have said.

Authorities are searching for more suspects as more than 100 reports of sabotaged fruit have poured in.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for tougher penalties for food contamination in the wake of the incidents.

“This is a shocking and cowardly thing for this individual and others who have jumped onto the bandwagon here to have engaged in,” Morrison told reporters. 

Strawberry farmers are paying the price, Morrison added, with demand dropping amid contaminated fruit fears.