HIGHLAND PARK – Two juveniles have been charged with criminal mischief in connection with graffiti found near a Highland Park synagogue, according to police.

Graffiti was found late Saturday night near the Ahavas Achim synagogue on South 1st Avenue in Highland Park, hours after five people were stabbed during the Hanukkah celebration in Monsey. Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler said in a post on her Facebook page the scene is being investigated as a “possible bias crime scene.”

Highland Park police said a joint investigation with the Middlesex County Prosecutors Office and New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness determined that these acts "were not perpetrated with bias intent."

A female juvenile was taken into custody and charged with four counts of criminal mischief. A male juvenile was charged with one count of criminal mischief, according to police. Their names and exact ages were not revealed.

During a community meeting called "Highland Park Stronger than Hate" to discuss bias incidents in Highland Park, acting Middlesex County prosecutor Christopher Kuberiet told attendees there was "absolutely no indication of a bias intent" by the teens, according to News 12 New Jersey coverage of the meeting.

Brill Mittler told the meeting that police have increased their patrols around Jewish businesses in the borough along with all religious houses of worship, according to News 12 New Jersey.

Highland Park has a large Jewish population and is served by six synagogues.

Graffiti on a sidewalk in Highland Park
Graffiti on a sidewalk in Highland Park (Highland Park Police)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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