A man demonstrates a toothpick crossbow in Changchun, in China's northeast Jilin province.

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Police in three Chinese provinces are raiding toy shops

One parent says the toy is a mini weapon of destruction

Beijing CNN  — 

Forget fidget spinners. China has a much more dangerous toy fad driving adults crazy.

Police in three Chinese provinces are raiding toy shops to seize miniature crossbows that shoot toothpicks.

Parents have taken to social media to express their concerns as they fear the crossbow can be loaded with sharp objects and cause real harm.

“This is not a toy, but a mini weapon of destruction,” Yan Yan, a mother commented on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.

Police in the eastern province of Zhejiang sent 3,973 officers to check businesses and confiscated 528 miniature crossbows. Police in Yunnan and Sichuan, in China’s southwest, conducted similar operations.

“Business owners shouldn’t sell toys that are physically or mentally harmful to minors,” said the Administration for Industry and Commerce of Chengdu, in the provincial capital of Sichuan.

“Once found, the products will be pulled from the shelves and the businesses will be punished. “

Despite its tiny size, a toothpick launched by the crossbow is powerful enough to pierce an aluminum can from 20 to 66 feet, according to toy packaging shown in a video by China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

It can cause even more damage if loaded with harder ammunition like needles.

Handheld crossbows that can fire out needles and nails are the latest must-have toy in China but anxious parents want them banned.

Parents’ worries aren’t unfounded. A 10-year-old in Xinjiang, west China was hurt by a toothpick crossbow in his right eye last Sunday, resulting in an irreversible eyesight loss, reports the local Urumqi Evening News.

Easy access

According to state media, the toothpick crossbow costs as little as $1 and is sold in in kiosks near elementary and middle schools in China.

Until this week, it could be easily purchased on China’s leading e-commerce site like JD.com and taobao.com.

However, the listings of the crossbow are now nowhere to be found on these sites.

JD.com and Taobao.com haven’t immediately responded to a CNN request for comment.

Following parents’ outrage, local governments across the country are clamping down the toy.

Education boards in several provinces have requested schools confiscate the toy if it turns up in class.

CCTV, the state broadcaster has asked people to tip-off about any “evil-minded” manufacturers or retailers of the crossbow.