Police are investigating a case of racist graffiti after ads featuring real estate agents of Asian descent were defaced in Nanaimo this week.

The graffiti appeared on three bus-stop bench advertisements, according to police.

"Just terrible, senseless graffiti," said said Const. Gary O'Brien, with Nanaimo RCMP.

"They have since been cleaned up and we have no idea who is responsible for it."

One community organization says it was shocked to see the hateful messages.

"I think it's very sad for our community. I don't really understand people who are so fearful of newcomers that they would be motivated to do something like that," said Hilde Schlosar, with the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society.

Nanaimo police dealt with a similar problem in 2015, when someone was distributing flyers that told readers the city was being overrun by Chinese immigration.

Nine bus stops were defaced with anti-Chinese slurs and swastikas in June 2015.

RCMP are investigating whether this week's graffiti is linked to the incidents in 2015. 

With files from Megan Thomas