Harassment Against Couple Is Investigated as Hate Crime

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Detectives are investigating whether religious prejudice was the motive behind a car burglary and other recent acts of harassment against a couple, a Police Department spokesman said Saturday.

The victims, newlyweds Frank and April Guiltinan, are not waiting for the police investigators' determination.

"It doesn't take Dick Tracy to figure it out," said April Guiltinan, who is Jewish. "I feel nervous staying here." Guiltinan and her husband, a Catholic, found a new apartment Saturday in a south Orange County security apartment complex and will move this week.

Three weeks ago, someone drew a swastika in the dust on the windshield of the couple's car. Later, a swastika was painted on the sidewalk in front of their apartment. Between 4 and 8 a.m. Friday morning a car window was smashed and a third swastika was drawn on the dashboard.

"It's being investigated as an auto burglary and possible religious terrorism," Orange Police Sgt. Ed Falkenstein said of the most recent vandalism.

"It's pretty sick, if you ask me," said one neighbor, who did not want to be identified. "It's like, everything is real peaceful here all the time. All of a sudden, this. . . . Everybody here in these apartments, they keep to themselves."

The harassment of the Guiltinans follows a similar incident this month in Orange County against a black family whose home was vandalized.

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