NJ salon hit by hate crime

PENNS GROVE, N.J. - October 20, 2009 Workers spent the day cleaning the graffiti from the walls of the Blu Salon and Spa after vandals attacked them with spray paint during the night. There was an attempt at a swastika and profanity was written in paint.

"There's no doubt they were specifically targeted based on interviews with different residents," said Lt. Charles Ashfield of the Penns Grove Police. "We haven't had any serious incidents with graffit around town in the last year, year-and-a-half."

The vandalism was spotted by police at around 3:00 a.m. That's when owner Michelle Cobb was notified.

"When I got here and I saw the words, and the things that were written, the destroying of my hard work and everyone's hard work, I was completely disappointed, disgusted, hurt and angry," Cobb said.

The building at 70 West Main Street in Penns Grove once housed a Moose Lodge, but had been vacant for several years. Dan Wistar said his father bought it and spent the last several years restoring it.

The salon moved in on Augustt 6th.

"If that's the only you can express yourself, your frustration, with busting up other people's property, there's something wrong with you," Wistar said.

There were surveillance cameras set up, but police say they were not operating.

Penns Grove is a town that has fallen on hard times. The fact that anyone would target a renovated business has Mayor John Washington upset.

"I'm outraged right now, because people spent a lot of money in this place, redoing this whole entire place. The buildings, the parking lots, the shrubbery are all brand-spanking new," he said.

There is a $3,000 reward being offered to solve his crime. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 856-299-0055.

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