Sheriff's investigators are treating as a hate crime the application of swastikas to the walls of Palisades United Methodist Church in Capistrano Beach over the weekend.
Using lipstick and black markings, the international sign of Nazism and other obscenities were painted onto a preschool wall behind the church at 27002 Camino de Estrella sometime between Friday night and 9:45 a.m. Sunday when they were discovered.
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It's the swastikas that have sheriff's Lt. Paul D'Auria, chief of police services in San Clemente, treating this as a hate crime, although the pastor of the church on the San Clemente-Capistrano Beach border said she suspects teen pranksters are behind the graffiti.
What makes Linda Robison believe that? Besides the vandalism to the wall, someone turned on all the outdoor hoses, something that was discovered Saturday night. A shed was also broken into and an electrical box and sprinkler box were damaged, according to pastor .
No one can recall similar problems happening before at Palisades Church, whose history dates back to the 1940s and was visited by President Richard Nixon on Feb. 11, 1973, to coincide with the release of POWs in North Vietnam.