HOWELL — Nine swastikas were found painted on backboards and benches in a Howell park less than a week after anti-semitic graffiti was found in a playground in neighboring Lakewood.

Howell Police spokesman Detective Sgt. Christian Antunez said the swastikas were spraypainted in white onto wooden backboards and benches near the horseshoe pits in Echo Lake Park.

The area is set back 300 feet from the road and parking lot making it hard to clearly see, according to Antunez, who estimates that the vandalism happened within the past week.

There were also random non-distinct marks spraypainted to the floor of a gazebo in the park, he said. Antunez said members of the Jewish community often visit the park on Maxim Southard Road. The Howell Township Department of Public Works painted over the graffiti.

A playground at the Yeshiva Ketana on Second Avenue in neighboring Lakewood used by a day camp program was vandalized last week with swastikas and a misspelled "Heil Hitler" spray painted in black to a jungle gym. Staffordsmith said there was a similar graffiti incident in July at the school. No arrests have been made in either case.

Antunez said it is "unknown" if there is a connection between the most recent incidents in Howell and Lakewood.

Howell Police ask anyone with information about the vandalism call them at 732-938-4575.

In recent years, some residents in these Ocean County communities have complained that they have been harassed and pressured to sell their homes to Jewish families that want to move into the Lakewood area because of its Kosher markets, religious schools and temples. Toms River earlier this year banned real estate solicitation in two areas of the town for five years in reaction to residents’ complaints.

Vandals also scratched ugly comments about Jewish people into playground equipment at Riverwood Park in Toms River in March.

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