Lakewood playground vandalized with swastikas, other graffiti

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Friday, August 26, 2016
Playground in Hasidic community vandalized
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Mallory Hoff reports from Lakewood, New Jersey

LAKEWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- A playground in a Hasidic community in New Jersey was vandalized, and it's not the first time residents and law enforcement are dealing with such an incident.

Police in Lakewood say a suspect or suspects spray-painted swastikas and the phrase "Hail Hitler(sic)" on the equipment.

The playground is near a Jewish camp for kids, and the graffiti -- discovered around 2 p.m. Thursday -- has since been painted over.

Lakewood's mayor says he believes someone is trying to intimidate the community.

"It's extremely cowardly that the perpetrator came to a playground where children play to perpetrate such heinous attacks of putting this graffiti on the walls and on the playground material," Mayor Menashe Miller said. "It's cowardly."

A similar situation happened at the same playground in July, and authorities are investigating if they are connected.

"It's a serious offense; it is bias criminal mischief," Lakewood police Lieutenant Greg Staffordsmith said. "And the state, as well as local authorities, is extremely hard on that. And the penalties are definitely increased."

There are no suspects in either of the incidents, and anyone with information is asked to contact police.