NEW YORK — More than 100 car tires have been slashed in the heavily Jewish town of Lakewood, New Jersey, over the past several days in what is now being investigated as a “bias incident” against Jewish residents.
Security footage broadcast by ABC News showed a person in a hoodie using a knife to slash tires.
The Lakewood Police Department told Haaretz it is “actively investigating” the incident.
“All of the 21 victims in this case are believed to be of Jewish faith,” Capt. Gregory Staffordsmith said. “Therefore, this is being treated as a bias incident.
“These incidents are believed to have occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 10, 2019 between the hours of 1 and 2:30 A.M.,” he added. “The suspect is believed to be a male, wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt.”
Although he said such incidents are “not so common," Lakewood has seen “approximately 10 slashings the week before in the same area."
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“We believe the incidents are related,” he added.
Lakewood, a center of Haredi life in the United States, has seen its population boom in recent decades — from around 60,000 in 2000 to more than 100,000 as of 2017. Local officials have predicted that the number would more than double by 2030, according to the Asbury Park Press.
As the city has grown, Orthodox families seeking more space have moved to neighboring towns like Toms River or Jackson. This expansion has created a backlash from some non-Orthodox neighbors, who often say their objections are about zoning, housing density and local support for public schools. But the Orthodox residents and others see some of the criticism as anti-Semitic.