Vandalism: Officer says use of Nazi symbol likely means a hate crime chargeSAINT JOHN - When they threw rocks at her home's windows, it was a nuisance.
Published Tuesday July 27th, 2010
Then, it was eggs and toilet paper all over her Dufferin Row property. Last month, it was garbage, poured all over the lawn and over the car.
But what happened this past weekend brings Margret Begner to tears.
Light-purple coloured paint was poured all over her vehicle, and in blue spray paint, someone drew the Nazi swastika on the windshield and driver's door.
"What was really hurting was that they put the Nazi sign," Begner said Monday. "That just takes it over the top."
At first Begner thought the vandals had a personal vendetta against her family. But she has recently heard other people in the west side neighbourhood have also been targets of vandalism.
A neighbour on St. John Street has told Begner she doesn't sleep at night, and a Portuguese family on Fundy Drive moved away because they couldn't handle it anymore.
"It's just hate. They hate everything. They hate themselves and they hate their neighbours," Begner said of the vandals. She owns a restaurant uptown and her family has lived in Saint John for 18 years, since moving here from Germany.
Begner isn't sure if the perpetrators have something against different cultures or backgrounds.
"I think they're just against anything and everything they don't have and don't get," she said. "They don't respect private property. They have zero tolerance, zero respect."
Police say Begner wasn't the only person targeted with the Nazi markings early Saturday morning.
The Assumption Centre on Chapel Street, next to Our Lady of the Assumption Church, was also marked with the swastika, said Sgt. Pat Bonner of the Saint John Police Force.
In that case, the green spray paint was used.
"They could be related," he said.
Painting a swastika makes the crime more than just mischief, he said. It would likely result in a charge of public incitement of hatred - or a hate crime.
"That's definitely a hate crime when you put something like that - a Nazi symbol," he said. "Not only is it vandalism - it's a message."
Begner said she has installed security cameras at her home and won't give up hope until the vandalism stops.
"I know we will get them, if I have to sit on my porch every single night," she said. "If that is something it will take, I will do that."
She said she's run out of reasons for why someone would continue to terrorize her neighbourhood.
But it doesn't affect the way she feels about the city.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you live. There are people who will have different opinions and ways of dealing with things," she said.
While she waited for her insurance adjuster to examine the damage, a flood of neighbours saw the symbol and called her to say how shameful and unacceptable it was.
"They took this one too far," she said.Our readers have been incredible when it comes to tracking down information leading to identification of suspects in cases such as this. We're asking our readers to help out on this one as well.