A 50-year-old woman was arrested Sunday as part of a police investigation into strawberries that were being found spiked with sewing needles across Australia.
The Queensland Police Service arrested the unnamed woman, who is alleged to be involved in the needle scare that devastated Australia’s fruit farming industry. She was photographed arriving in the back of a police car at a Brisbane watch house.
The force said in a statement: “After the discovery of punnets of strawberries contaminated with needles, Queensland authorities notified the public of the safety risk on September 12.
“The QPS coordinated a national investigative response with multiple government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
“A police taskforce was established with officers from the State Crime Command coordinating the investigation together with detectives in a number of police districts in Queensland.
“Following an extensive investigation, officers arrested a 50-year-old woman this afternoon.”
— S Marshall-McCormack (@ShannonMM9) November 11, 2018
According to 7 News Brisbane, police were able to match DNA found on one of four needles pulled from a punnet at a supermarket with that of the suspect.
— 7 News Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) November 11, 2018
7 News reported that the suspect owns a company that provides strawberry pickers and may have been motivated by a personal grudge against another company in the supply chain.
The crisis began on Sept. 9 when a Queensland man was hospitalised after biting into a strawberry that contained a sewing needle.
The full extent of the sabotage is yet to be confirmed but reports of other fruit containing sewing needles emerged around the same time and several brands were recalled. Needles were found in strawberries shipped to New Zealand.
Strawberry farmers were forced to discard their fruit in huge piles, while customers were urged to cut up any berries to check they are safe.