Entries in Sydney (11)


McDonald’s Installing Spray-Dousing Security Systems

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- Thieves Down Under might get a little something extra the next time they rob a McDonald’s.

In an effort to crack down on robberies at McDonald’s in Sydney, the company has hired SelectaDNA, a British security firm, to install a system that sprays a solution on would-be thieves on their way out the door of the fast-food outlets that can later be used to identify the culprits.

A handful of McDonald’s locations have been hit in the past few weeks by thieves who snatch more than just a Big Mac. Now the company hopes the newly installed systems will deter robbers from stealing from the Golden Arches.

“A spokesperson for McDonald’s said the company will increase the use of SelectaDNA in stores all over the country after a successful trial in their six busiest Sydney restaurants was launched in January last year,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported. "The move comes as police ramp up their patrols of local McDonald’s restaurants after a spate of robberies across Sydney during the Christmas and New Year period.”

The Intruder Spray solution was introduced in 2008 and “contains a UV tracer and a unique DNA code, linking them irrefutably to the crime scene,” according to SelectaDNA’s website.

Once triggered by a thief, the spray will fall onto intruders as they enter a business or home.  It can be synced to a panic-button or to any alarm system within a business or home. The solution is both harmless and too small to be seen but will stay on an intruder for weeks, “clinging to fibers and sitting in the creases of the skin,” according to the website.

With the installation of this high-technology security system, SelectaDNA says it will cut theft and burglaries significantly.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Red-Tainted Beaches in Australia Close for Testing

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- Blood red water has stained several Australian beaches, making the popular surf spots resemble something out of a horror movie.

Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach and nearby Clovelly Beach have been closed so authorities can test the water.

While red algae isn’t toxic, people are advised to avoid swimming in the algae-stained water because its high ammonia levels can cause skin irritation.

Despite the warnings, it didn’t stop some swimmers from jumping in to the surf.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Australian Zoo Keeper Stable After Elephant Attack

Jupiterimages/ -- An Australian zoo keeper is in critical but stable condition after she was crushed by a three-ton elephant during a training exercise.

The elephant, known as “Mr. Shuffles,” challenged veteran zoo keeper Lucy Melo, 40, on Friday at the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney.

“The elephant pinned her up against one of the fence poles…and [colleagues] came in, moved the elephant away and called the ambulance immediately,” said zoo director Cameron Kerr.

When paramedics arrived, Melo was able to speak and briefly asked what happened before she went into cardiac arrest, said ambulance service spokesperson Andrew Wood.

The zoo keeper, who is a nine-year veteran of the park, is recovering at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

On Saturday, Mr. Shuffles and the elephant herd were described as calm and well.  Zoo officials said they would resume usual activities.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dolphins Frolic with Surfers at Sydney’s Bondi Beach

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte(SYDNEY) -- You’ve heard of swimming with the dolphins, but how about surfing with the friendly mammals, right in the middle of them?

That’s what a group of surfers who dove into the waters off Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach experienced Tuesday when a pod of dolphins swam right into their surfing lesson.

In addition to crashing waves, the nearly dozen surfers found themselves surrounded by a pod of crashing dolphins. The dolphins, estimated to number as many as 50, showed their human counterparts just how surfing is done, jumping in and out of the waves, no surfboards needed.

Dolphins are a common sight on Sydney’s beaches, where they swim close to the shore in search of small fish, according to the Australian government’s department of environment.  Last month, a pod of about seven dolphins was spotted alongside surfers at nearby Bronte Beach.

While known as popular tourist spots, Bondi and Bronte Beaches are also known as prime spots for dolphin and whale sighting, particularly between June and August, Australia’s winter months.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Investment Banker Pleads Guilty in Fake 'Collar Bomb' Extortion Plot

Comstock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- An investment banker pled guilty Thursday to charges he broke into a Sydney, Australia, mansion and strapped a fake "collar bomb" around an 18-year-old girl's neck in a failed extortion attempt.

Paul Douglas Peters, 51, appeared in the Sydney courtroom by video link from prison, while his lawyer, Kathy Crittenden, entered the plea on his behalf.

Peters, a former Kentucky resident, reportedly entered the home of Madeleine Pulver in a wealthy suburb of Sydney on Aug. 3 wearing a ski mask and carrying an aluminum baseball bat. After telling her, "Sit down and no one needs to get hurt," Peters strapped a bomb-like device around the girl's neck. He then left her with a note and a computer thumb drive. The note gave instructions to transfer money to Peters and warned that the bomb would explode if removed.

After examining the device for more than 10 hours, police determined the "collar bomb" was a fake and removed it from around the girl's neck. Pulver was uninjured in the incident.

Pulver's father, Bill Pulver, is the chief executive of the software company Appen Butler Hill that specializes in voice recognition software, causing speculation that the extortion attempt specifically targeted the girl's family. Though Peters reportedly worked for a company linked to the Pulver family, they deny ever meeting him before. Observers have also speculated, however, that Peters may have been targeting an affluent acquaintance who also lived in the neighborhood and simply went to the wrong house.

New South Wales police and the FBI arrested Peters at the five-bedroom home of his ex-wife in a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, on Aug. 15. He was later extradited to Australia where formal charges were made. Peters is a successful investment banker, whose international business caused him to travel often between Australia and the U.S. An Australian native, he had also worked in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

"A poor decision by one man has prompted a truly extraordinary and inspiring response from many thousands of people and we will be forever grateful," Bill Pulver said following Thursday's hearing.

Peters will appear in court later this month for sentencing and faces up to 20 years in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Takes Daughter Hostage in Sydney Office Siege

Jupiterimages/ThinkstockUPDATE: After a near 12-hour standoff, police have arrested the man who entered a courthouse in Sydney's Parramatta suburb, claiming to have a bomb and holding his 12-year-old daughter hostage.  According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the girl was rescued by police unharmed, and the suspect is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.  His motives are currently being investigated.

(SYDNEY) -- A hostage standoff was triggered in a Sydney suburb on Tuesday when a man entered an office complex accompanied by his daughter, demanded to see a person he believed to work there and told the receptionist that he had a bomb in his backpack.

Police have surrounded the area in Parramatta and a number of ambulances and fire trucks remain on the scene.

Photos of the man peering out of the office window wearing the style of wig worn by lawyers in Australian court appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.  The man reportedly smashed the window open with a bottle, yelled through the hole and then threw the bottle followed by a telephone handset.

The man reportedly arrived in the office and asked office clerk Betty Hor to see a person from the local court.  She said that the man was meant to appear in court on Monday, but was not able to find the person he intended to meet.

“I think he just snapped,” Hor told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The man who appears to be about 50-years-old was accompanied by a young girl, who reportedly looked about 10-years-old.  She was heard referring to him as “Dad” when he threw a book at the reception area.  He then took her to the front of the building and closed the door.

He reportedly was seen peering from the window, pointing at himself to give the “thumbs up” sign, and then to the lawyer’s wig and giving the “thumb down” sign.  Police on the scene have confirmed that he claims to have a bomb.

“He has made a number of demands and negotiators are working through those demands with him, I don’t believe … anything to do with custody.  At this stage she [the girl] is well, as well as she can be,” Assistant Police Commissioner Dennis Clifford said.

Police had moved people at least 100 yards from the office building, according to Robert Hoffman, who works in a nearby office building.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Australian Collar Bomb Hoax: Family Speaks Following Arrest

The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- The family of the 18-year-old Australian girl who had a fake explosive device attached to her neck in an extortion attempt said they are greatly relieved after an Australian man was arrested in connection with the incident halfway around the world.

Paul Douglas Peters is now in federal custody after he was arrested by an FBI SWAT team in La Grange, Kentucky, 30 miles northwest of Louisville.  Two police officers from New South Wales were present at the time of the arrest.

At a press conference on Monday, William Pulver, the father of the victim Madeleine Pulver, made a statement on behalf of his daughter and their family.

"We are enormously relieved that an arrest has been made in the United States overnight.  These past two weeks have been a very difficult time for us, and we hope that this development makes the beginning of the end for our family," he said, adding that the family will not be making any further immediate comment.

Sydney police say they identified Peters, an Australian who does business around the world, as the suspect last week and immediately contacted the FBI.

"Over the course of the last three or four days, the New South Wales police have been working very closely with the FBI in the U.S. The offender in this matter was identified and it was confirmed that he traveled to the United States in recent days," Andrew Sciopone, the New South Wales police commissioner in Sydney, said.

A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, was stunned when officers descended on the home.

"We looked outside and we saw a SWAT team with the machine guns and battle helmets circling the house, and we had no idea what was going on," the neighbor said.

FBI agents searched the house for most of Monday afternoon and night after arresting 50-year-old Peters, according to ABC News affiliate WHAS-11 in Louisville.  Peters was living in Kentucky with his American ex-wife.

Police said that Peters does have family connections in the Louisville area and has previously lived in the United States. They said that he has been employed in several countries and has had history in several types of business.

The hunt for Peters began on Aug. 3 when the home of William Pulver, a wealthy CEO of an information technology company, was invaded by an intruder. Pulver's 18-year-old daughter Madeleine was studying for final exams when, according to New South Wales police, a man entered the home and attached the device to the girl's neck, along with a list of demands.

Madeleine Pulver spent 10 hours attached to the device before explosives experts determined to be fake. During the bomb scare, she was kept calm by four police officers inside the family home while her upscale neighborhood was evacuated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Collar Bomb Hoax 'Signed' by Character from Novel: Report

Agri Press/Thinkstock(NEWCASTLE, Australia) -- Australian police are puzzling over the clues reportedly left behind with a fake collar bomb: A USB stick inside the device, extortionate demands that don't include a dollar figure, and a signature by a character in a James Clavell novel.

It took police bomb squad experts more than 10 hours to remove the "very elaborate" device from the neck of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver on Wednesday. It was only some time after the "bomb" was removed that they were able to determine it was a hoax.

The terrified and exhausted teen was taken out of her home in a stretcher.

Pulver has recovered from her ordeal, her parents said Thursday.

"I can tell you that we, as parents, we are extraordinarily proud of Maddy," said Madeleine Pulver's father William Pulver at a news conference Thursday morning. "She has woken up this morning in pretty good spirits. She's a little tired, a little sore from holding this damn device in place for about 10 hours."

Madeleine Pulver is the daughter of one of Australia's richest men and was alone in her family's house in Mosman, a wealthy suburb of Sydney when a masked man broke into the home, chained a bomb-like device onto her neck and then fled the property, police said.

"I can confirm for you that there was a letter attached to this device, a note attached to this device that did make certain demands. We are treating this as an attempted extortion," said Detective Luke Moore with the New South Wales police.

According to reports, the letter said that the device would explode if the teenager called the police, but she bravely called anyway at around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Soon after, a bomb squad and hostage negotiators arrived at the house. The neighborhood was evacuated and closed off as her terrified parents were forced to wait across the street.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting mysterious details from the letter left at the scene. Reports say the long, typed note did not place a price on the very specific demands it made. Police have not released the content of the letter or commented on reports that there was a USB stick embedded in the fake bomb.

The paper also reports that the cryptic letter was signed under the name of Dirk Struan, a fictional character from a 1966 novel called Tai-Pan by James Clavell. The character of Dirk Struan is a 19th century businessman who goes to extreme lengths to destroy his business rival and dominate Chinese trade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sydney Opera House Highlighted in Magazine with Links to Al Qaeda

Photodisc/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- Photographs of the world famous Sydney Opera House in Australia have been featured countless times in newspapers and magazines, but the image of the landmark on the latest edition of Inspire magazine has terrorist experts worried because the publication has ties to al Qaeda. reports the opera house is featured in the magazine’s regular bomb-making section.  The magazine describes the section as “a resource manual for those who loathe the tyrants,” and “includes bomb-making techniques, security measures, guerrilla tactics, weapons training and all other jihad-related activities.”

Australian officials said the magazine does not contain any specific threat to the country or its citizens, and the nation’s threat level will not change because of the issue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Baby Rats Found Aboard Qantas Plane in Sydney

Pascal Parrot/Getty Images (file photo)(SYDNEY) -- The flight crew of a Qantas jet could've used some snakes on their plane this week.

According to The Wall Street Journal, five baby rats were found Tuesday in a storage compartment on board a Qantas jet at Sydney airport.  A spokesperson for the Australian airline said the rats were discovered before passengers boarded the Boeing 767 for a flight to Brisbane.

The jet was taken out of service, inspected and later declared to be free of rats.  The plane is scheduled to be put back into service Thursday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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