An Unwelcoming Message of Hate for NJ Business Owner

Developer not deterred by hate crime

Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010  |  Updated 5:18 PM EDT
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The welcome mat at <a title=Steve Shockett's new business was anything but welcoming after vandals spray painted "Jew" and a swastika on it." />

NBCPhiladelphia.com - Ted Greenberg, John Marcucci

The welcome mat at Steve Shockett's new business was anything but welcoming after vandals spray painted "Jew" and a swastika on it.

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Police were on the search for vandals Tuesday after an apparent hate crime in Franklin Township New Jersey.

A swastika and the word “Jew” were spray painted onto the welcome mat at Steve Shockett’s new Gloucester County offices.

“This is about as bad a thing I can think of,” Shockett said.

Police called it a hate crime -- one that’s deeply offended a man who’s all too familiar with atrocities involving anti-Semitism.

“It’s about as appalling as can be,” said Shockett, who is Jewish. “It’s offensive and appalling.”

The offensive graffiti was discovered in front of Shockett’s offices on Delsea Drive Monday morning.

“He literally had to tell me the story three or four times,” Shockett said. “It just blew me away. That’s all I can tell you.”

Shockett, a developer whose company is opening the office this week, has a painful connection to the symbol of Nazi Germany. Many of his father-in-law's relatives were murdered during the holocaust.

“His whole family got slaughtered in Germany -- it’s something we talk about and we live with regularly.”

The authorities saw this vandalism as a serious crime.

“It’s a terrible crime, we want to get on it right away,” said Franklin Township Police Chief Cleo Howe.

Authorities trying to solve the hate crime are looking for leads but have little to go on. And a $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in this case.

“We definitely need the public’s help in solving this crime,” Howe said. “Whatever information you have, please give us a call.”

Shockett said he was never openly threatened before this incident and he still plans to work in the South Jersey office as well as his main office in Maryland.

“I’m not going to let whoever perpetrated this affect me one iota,” he said.

Anyone who might know who’s responsible for the vandalism should call Franklin Township Police at 856-694-1414.

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