SELDEN, NY (CBS 2/WCBS 880) – A family on Long Island woke up Thursday to messages of hate painted on their home – and their car in flames – and it’s a nightmare they’ve lived through before.
Swastikas were painted on the garage doors, and their Jeep Cherokee burned in the driveway shortly after midnight, reports CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.
“It makes me angry, annoyed, frustrated,” homeowner Alex Robles said. “I had painted that over, and now I’m going to have to paint it over again.”
The Robles family, including three-year-old daughter Arriana, faced these same signs of hate less than a year ago.
“Back in October of 2009, we had a very similar situation at this house,” Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks, of the Suffolk County Police Department Hate Crimes Unit, said. “The only thing different from this particular incident was the car was not set on fire.”
“Last time they put racial slurs on the car…'[expletive] you’ and things like that, and a swastika on the hood,” Robles said.
Robles lives at the home with his family and his mother, who bought the house decades ago after emigrating from Puerto Rico.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with the race or anything,” Robles said. “I just think that whoever did this is just doing this to show their hatred.”
Robles said he was startled awake at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
“We were awoken to a loud thumping noise,” says Robles. “I heard the car alarm went off, and looked out the window, and the car was on fire.”
Robles says he woke up his wife, his mother, and grabbed his daughter and ran out of the house.
Robles says, “Then we see swastikas on the garage door, and this is the second time this has happened within the past nine months.”
Robles said the flames could have reached his daughter’s bedroom window, which is right above the garage.
“God forbid it would’ve actually gone up more, then it could’ve reached the second floor of the house, and she was sleeping,” Robles said.
As Suffolk County’s arson squad and hate crimes unit investigate, Robles’ greatest fear is what might happen next time.
“We don’t know if this is going to escalate – it could be tomorrow, it could be nine months again later – we don’t know,” Robles said. “We don’t know what can be done next if they were to set the house on fire.”
Robles said police are looking into the possibility that the vandal may be someone who had a business dispute with his mother, but no arrests have been made so far.
Robles said he grew up in the house, and he has no plans of being scared into moving out of the neighborhood.
Suffolk County Police said they’re increasing patrols in the area.