The hunt is on for an extortionist who broke into a wealthy Sydney home and chained a hoax bomb and a list of demands to the neck of a terrified schoolgirl.
The terrifying ordeal during which Madeline Pulver had a hoax bomb chained to her neck is being treated as an extortion attempt by police.
A masked man broke into her Mosman home, on Sydney’s lower north shore, and strapped a device to the 18-year-old on Wednesday afternoon.
It sparked a tense, drawn out operation that ended ten hours later, shortly before midnight, when bomb disposal experts safely removed the device.
In a press conference, Robbery and Serious Crime Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Luke Moore said police were treating the incident as an attempted extortion.
“This would have been a terrifying and traumatic ordeal for the young woman,” he said. “We are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry – however, it appears at this stage to be a case of attempted extortion.
“We have established Strike Force Haddon to examine this incident and the motivation behind it.”
Maddy tired and sore after holding bomb
Madeline Pulver’s father, William, says the girl has emerged from her horrifying ordeal in good spirits, although she is “tired and sore” after holding the bomb that was chained to her neck for 10 hours.
“From our family’s perspective we are clearly extremely eager for our lives to return to normal,” Mr Pulver told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
“We have a daughter on the cusp of doing HSC exams … Our appeal to you is that you request our privacy after this and leave us to get on with our lives.”
Mr Pulver, with his wife by his side, thanked everyone involved in the operation, including police, hospital staff and emergency workers.
“You are a wonderful group of people, you were an extraordinary support and comfort to my daughter last night.” In particular, he said his daughter wanted to thank the officers who had stayed with her for many hours “with little regard to their own personal safety”.
“They were an incredible comfort during a horrific ordeal.” Mr Pulver said he was proud of “Maddy” who was coping well.
“She has woken up this morning in pretty good spirits,” he said. “She is a little tired, a little sore from holding this damned device in place for about ten hours.”
Mr Pulver described his daughter as “beautiful” and said she wanted to put the incident behind her.
Detective Superintendent Luke Moore said police were treating the incident as a “serious and complex investigation” and an unusual crime.
He said police were conducting extensive forensic examination at the family home on Burrawong Avenue.
“We have some initial lines of inquiry that we are following up,” he said.
“There’s a lot of resources involved in this investigation.”
Supt Moore confirmed there was a letter of demand attached to the device that was believed to be a bomb.
“It was an elaborate device certainly made to look as though it was potentially explosive,” he said.
“We are treating this as an attempted extortion.” Supt Moore said police did not have a full description of the offender, but there was “no doubt” police were looking for a suspect.