Possible hate crimes target Jewish-owned businesses
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (WSVN) -- Detectives are investigating several arson incidents that seem to have targeted Jewish-owned businesses in a shopping center.
Police do not know if these are actual hate crimes or simply mindless vandalism. There is no obvious indication of a hate crime, police note. There were no swastika symbols painted anywhere or anything incriminating of a hate crime left behind at 5650 Sterling Road in Hollywood.
Early Friday morning, vandals set Pita and Grill and JP Bistro on fire. Both happen to be kosher restaurants. All this happened after another store in the shopping center, Judaica, had been set on fire in December of 2011.
Surveillance cameras captured the arson work Friday at Pita and Grill. Police describe it as not very professional, just destructive. The two young men responsible did not appear to steal anything. One of the men even accidentally set one of his pant legs on fire.
There was no surveillance of what happened inside of JP Bistro, but the inside of the restaurant was badly damaged. The fire caused enough damage to kill two large freezers and shut down the business for at least two months.
"The holiday season is coming so this is the worst for me," said business owner, Ilan Timianski. "Whatever I built this year is done."
Police believe the same arsonists are responsible for damage to that restaurant but Timianski is not sure if it really is a hate crime.
"There's not reason for anyone to do anything bad to this business," said Timianski. "This business does only good for the people. I have homeless people here that eat for free."
Both incidents have left people on edge in the area. "Regardless that we are near high holidays like Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, which is a very important time for those who observe the religion or those who understand what Rosh Hashanah is," said a business owner. "I just feel that people are trying to play with our emotions, and I find that unfair for those who are going out shopping. This is serious games, this is not a joke."
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