Anti-gay graffiti and extensive vandalism at a Van Nuys home prompted a hate crime investigation Tuesday night by Los Angeles police officers.
The vandalism was reported about 6 p.m. at a home in the 7400 block of Vista Del Monte Avenue, according to Officer Mike Lopez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Sgt. Carl Taylor said someone broke into the home, sprayed anti-gay graffiti, kicked in walls and destroyed water pipes.
"It's pretty extensive damage," said Taylor, who confirmed that detectives were treating the burglary and ransacking as a suspected hate crime.
When officers arrived at the property, the home's door was open. Police made sure no one was inside and noticed the large amount of property damage.
It's unclear who lives at the property. No one was injured during the ransacking and there was no description of a suspect or suspects, Lopez said.
The suspected hate crime comes after a period in which Los Angeles County has seen an increase in such targeted violence.
According to a report issued in September by the county's Commission on Human Relations, the number of hate crimes in the county rose sharply in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. A total of 483 hate crimes were reported, a 24% increase from 2014.
Of those, 120 hate crimes were motivated by sexual orientation — an 11% increase from the previous year.
Officials said the overall spike came after a roughly seven-year period that saw a downward trend for reported hate crimes.
Still, experts have cautioned that the statistics on hate crimes against LGBT people may not be accurate because of concerns about reporting incidents to authorities and exposing one's sexual identity.
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