Police launch hate crime probe after anti-Semitic notes found at North York condo

Toronto police say vandalism involving anti-Semitic notes left on doors in a North York condo is being investigated as a hate crime.

'Hate is a fundamental part of the investigation,' Toronto police spokesman says

Several residents of this North York condo building reported finding anti-Semitic notes on their front doors. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

Toronto police say they are now investigating the anti-Semitic notes found on doors inside a North York condo as a possible hate crime.

Someone also removed the mezuzah, a carving with a Hebrew verse, from the front doors of several residents.

Officers were first called to an apartment building in the Beecroft Road and Ellerslie Avenue area, near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, about a potential case of vandalism at about 9 p.m. on Sunday.

The notes, however, involved racist comments, both police and residents told CBC Toronto. Several residents found notes with pictures of swastikas stuck to their doors. 

At least one of the notes also said "No Jews," police said.

A spokesman for the Toronto Police Service said Tuesday that while the investigation is focusing on mischief, specifically interference with property, officers will also consider whether hate was the motivation behind the crime.

"Hate is a fundamental part of the investigation," Mark Pugash said.

If hate can be proven as a factor in the offence, that will come into play during sentencing, Pugash said.

Incident disturbed residents

Earlier this week, one of the condo's residents told CBC Toronto that her mezuzah had already been broken by an unknown vandal. Helen Chaiton, 70, didn't see what happened, but a friend found the sacred artifact in pieces.

"I was very, very disturbed," Chaiton said, calling it "a great sin against God."

On Sunday evening, her rabbi came by with a replacement mezuzah. But after she had gone to bed, Chaiton said she heard a chiselling sound outside her door. 

The persistent knocking prompted her to call security. When the guard arrived, the second mezuzah gone.

Swear words and swastikas

A yellow Post-it note, however, was left in its place. It had the F-word and a swastika written on it in red ink, she said.

Chaiton, whose parents survived the Holocaust, said she doesn't know who vandalized both of her mezuzahs, but her guess is that it was someone who lives in her building.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3200 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).