St. Joseph County Police need the public’s help searching for vandals targeting Granger homes.
Early Friday morning, two families woke-up to find a Swastika and “Nazi B----!” spray-painted on their two-car garages.
One attack was along the 50800 block of Tebay Dr. in the Fox Chase neighborhood. The second occurred just a few blocks away in the 50700 block of Kelley Ct., in the Devonshire Pointe subdivision.
Despite both owners being minorities, investigators believe each case was an unplanned, indiscriminate incident, carried out by local teenagers. For one, the Swastika symbol was not spray-painted correctly.
"Anybody who is caught putting this graffiti up, especially on a residence, needs to understand although they make think it's a practical joke and some kind of prank, the homeowners take it very seriously,” St. Joseph County Police Lt. Matt Blank said.
Tina and Gurvinder Rekhim, six year residents of Fox Chase, would agree. Gurvinder was pulling out of his garage around 6:30 a.m. Friday when his headlights exposed bright red paint and a hue of hate.
"The moment he saw it, he ran inside and said "Tina we've been attacked.” The moment I came out and saw the sign, I just couldn’t stand here for more than a minute. It just didn't feel right, it hurt, I felt sad of course, I felt stabbed,” Tina Rekhi recalled.
Postponing his MRI appointment, Gurvinder shuffled his wife and two young children inside. He then snapped a photo of the graffiti with his cellular phone, grabbed paint thinner and scrubbed down the garage before dialing 911.
"This is the area where they had the sign up. You can see the faint pinkish color still,” Tina said pointing to the large metal door. "Just for me to see that sign gave me chills.”
In addition to contacting the authorities, Gurvinder drafted and sent an email to the entire Fox Chase Neighborhood Watch Group, explaining the situation.
“I would like to advise all our residents to please be cautious and report any such incident immediately. It could very well be a prank, but we’re taking it very seriously,” Gurvinder wrote.
In the days since, St. Joseph County Police have increased patrols across Granger, but have formed no solid leads regarding suspects.
"Ultimately it's our goal that people feel safe in their homes and that they are safe in their homes. If there is something we can do to help prevent crimes from happening, we're going to do that,” Lt. Blank added.
"Just put yourself in my shoes. If someone did this to you, what would you feel like? Treat others the way you'd like to be treated. So if you wouldn’t like to be treated this way, don't do it to others,” Tina concluded with plans to install security cameras around a home that until now, felt perfectly secure.
It is possible there are more hate crime victims who’ve yet to come forward. If you’ve been targeted, police ask you to put pride aside and contact investigators at: (574) 235-9611.