While detectives investigated whether religious prejudice was a motive for a car burglary and other recent acts of harassment against a couple, the newlywed victims found themselves a new apartment Saturday.
April Guiltinan said the dashboard of her car was marked up with a swastika and that an anti-Semitic death message was scrawled in the dust of her husband Frank's vehicle. They are moving this week to a south Orange County security apartment building.
"It doesn't take Dick Tracy to figure out," April Guiltinan said Saturday. "The only time we can remember saying anything about me being Jewish is when we first moved in here, and Frank might have asked the manager where the nearest temple was, and maybe someone was in the office at the time. We don't know anybody else. And I don't even really practice anymore, so I don't even discuss religion."
On Saturday, fresh black paint and a traffic cone masked a swastika that had been spray-painted on a nearby sidewalk. April's car sat in its stall, the glass of its passenger-side window shattered and the radio gone. The car's dashboard, bearing another swastika, was vandalized with a black felt pen.
"It's being investigated as an auto burglary and possible religious terrorism," said Orange Police Sgt. Ed Falkenstein.
The Guiltinans have told police that after moving into the apartment about two months ago, they asked neighbors the location of the closest Catholic church and synagogue. Frank Guiltinan is Catholic; his wife is Jewish.
Three weeks ago, April Guiltinan said, someone drew a swastika in the dust of Frank's windshield, along with "Die . . . ," followed by a derogatory term for a Jew.
She was nervous about it but her husband dismissed it as random.
Later, a swastika was painted on the sidewalk, which they also did not consider a message directed at them, she said. On Friday morning, between 4 and 8 a.m., their car was vandalized and a swastika was inscribed on the dashboard.
April Guiltinan said a neighbor, a young man, came by her window as she washed the Thanksgiving dishes, and asked if her car was parked in space 214. She said yes. He said it had been burglarized. Neither he nor she noticed the dashboard until her husband got home and looked inside, where he found the Nazi symbol drawn in black pen.
"That just gave me such chills," April Guiltinan said Saturday, a few hours after the couple found a new apartment. "It's very scary. What concerns me is that I don't think it's 12- and 13-year-olds doing this. I think its 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds or possibly adults. I've seen this on cable shows but I've always felt so untouched by this ugliness."
At least one of her neighbors agreed.
"It's sick, if you ask me," said one neighbor, who did not want to be named. "Everything is real peaceful here all the time. All of a sudden, this. . . . Everybody here in these apartments, they keep to themselves."
Soon after moving into the complex the Guiltinans decided they would eventually move to a "nicer place," April Guiltinan said, but "we were not in a rush because we just got married and moved here, and we were trying to save some money. But forget it. We're out of here."
The harassment of the Guiltinans comes in addition to another incident this month in Orange County that police are investigating as a possible hate crime.
The victims in that incident were a black family living in Laguna Hills. They returned to their home to find it flooded and its inside walls covered with racial epithets.