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Anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on Vaughan home being investigated as hate crime

Last Updated Apr 28, 2019 at 7:16 pm EDT

York Regional Police are investigating after anti-Semitic graffiti was found on a home in the Thornhill Woods community of Vaughan, a predominantly Jewish suburb.

Det. Const. Andrew Burford tells CityNews the graffiti was spray painted somewhere between 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday night and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

Andrew Sefton, the owner of the home that was vandalized, tells CityNews he and his two sons came home from Shabbat dinner and found the hateful and threatening language spray painted on the garage doors. The scrawls in red included a swastika and the words “watch ur self” and “we watch.”

“My wife was home at the time, which is why it is very much concerning, ” says Sefton. “There’s a safety risk to my wife, there’s a safety risk in terms of the threat of being watched … and the threat of the swastika and then identifying, because of the mezuzah (on the door), that I’m Jewish and my family is Jewish.”

Sefton adds that it is more than just damage to personal property.

“It’s more than just graffiti. The swastika is obviously a threat to the community that I live in. So for many of my Jewish neighbours, including myself, there’s obviously that concern that this exists in our society and we cant get rid of it.” he says.

The incident comes on the eve of the release of a report by B’Nai Brith Canada that says, for the third year in a row, anti-Semitic targeted crimes are on the rise. The organization says its “2018 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents” lists more than 2,000 cases of harassment, vandalism and violence.

Burford, a hate crime investigator, says incidents like this happen “more often than what people would think.”

“Maybe once a month we get something as serious as what this is,” he said.

Gila Martow, MPP for Thornhill said in a tweet that the graffiti was “heartbreaking to see.”

Police are currently canvassing the area for witnesses and anyone with information is asked to come forward.