Two Windang children are lucky to be alive after a rat bait was allegedly slipped into their trick or treat lolly bag during a neighbourhood Halloween event.
The Ratsak branded product is a lethal poison designed to kill rodents, it causes mass haemorrhaging and could easily kill a child.
Tyrell Smith, 12, and his friend also aged 12, were trick or treating in their neighbourhood on Tuesday, October 31 when one of their bags was laced with the poison.
"[My friend] said to me 'do you think this is a funny joke?' He was holding the rat bait in his hand," Tyrell's mother Pennie Smith said.
"It quivers me to the core, I was just horrified. Who would do this?"
She grabbed the poison from the boy's hand and his bag of lollies and immediately threw them out.
Most worryingly, she said, was that while one bright blue rat bait was still sealed in a clear plastic satchel, another Ratsak satchel had been ripped open and the bait was missing.
In a plea to other Illawarra parents, she urged them to check their children's lolly bags.
"Please keep an eye out. Imagine if a kid put this in their mouth," Ms Smith pleaded.
NSW Police have called on anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
What is Ratsak?
The active ingredient in Ratsak is the highly lethal anticoagulant poison Brodifacoum.
"Ratsak sack certainly could kill a child," University of Wollongong's Dr Judy Morgan.
The poison causes bleeding and the anticoagulant prevents the body from stopping that bleeding.
"It's not going to cause harm just to touch it, it's one of those things that is going to be particularly dangerous if you ingest it," Dr Morgan said.
The senior lecturer at UOW's School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience at UOW said the poison is brightly coloured for a specific purpose.
"They come in blues and greens. They're generally a bright colour so that they can be seen relatively easily when you put them down inside a property or in the garden," she said.
Dr Morgan urged said food should only be consumed if it's still in its original wrapping.
Anticoagulants can be prescribed for some medical conditions, such as people who suffer from blood clots.
For more information contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.
Windang's Halloween celebration
Windang is well known for its Halloween decorations and trick or treating opportunities, and Ms Smith is fearful other children could have received rat baits.
"There were hundreds of kids because Windang does it big for Halloween," she said.
"I've lived in Windang my whole life and it's such a great place for trick or treating."