By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE -- A family in Port St. Lucie came home on Jan. 3 to find not only had their home been broken into, but racially offensive symbols and words were spray painted on the door, floor and walls of the residence.
"During the investigation of the burglary, police found evidence of a hate crime in the form of vandalism," said Master Sgt. Frank Sabol, public information officer for the Port St. Lucie police department.
He said the vandalism was directed at the residents of the home, who were of African American and Caribbean descent.
Swastikas were found spray painted on home's floor and front door, in addition to words spray painted on the walls of the home.
Along with the vandalism, a television and several other items were stolen from the home. It appears the incident took place between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. while the home was unoccupied.
While the police are continuing their investigation, the Anti-Defamation League, based in Boca Raton, has reached out to support the family while commending the police department for labeling the incident a hate crime.
"This heinous hate crime is unacceptable and we ask that the entire community, leaders and residents, stand shoulder to shoulder to publicly condemn the bias-motivated crime targeting the family," said David Barkey, counsel for the ADL Southeastern Area of Florida.
"The hateful messages impact the entire community and it is critical we all come together to send a message that we will not tolerate such cowardly and un-American bigotry."
If anyone has any information on this crime, they are asked to call the Port St. Lucie Police Department at (772) 871-5001 or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at (800) 273-8477.