MARGATE — Police here shared screen shots taken from a video surveillance camera mounted on Historic City Hall that, along with video taken at Tomatoe's, may lead to the apprehension of whoever vandalized the menorah on the Municipal Pier just blocks away.
The still image from the City Hall camera shows what looks to be a late-model Lexus SUV making a left-hand turn from Washington Avenue onto Ventnor Avenue heading north toward Atlantic City.
According to Sgt. Joseph Scullion, the department’s public information officer, the video was taken at 3:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 18, just minutes after the city’s public menorah display was damaged.
“We are pretty sure it’s the suspect’s vehicle,” he said early Tuesday afternoon.
Scullion said police have a second surveillance video from Tomatoe’s on Washington and Amherst avenues that shows the menorah being damaged at the pier across the street.
“The video from Tomatoe’s Restaurant shows the suspect committing the crime,” Scullion said. “It shows him pulling down the menorah and getting into this vehicle. Although that video was not very clear, we are hoping releasing this will help us out.”
The man hopped into this vehicle, which was stopped on the side of the road, he said.
Scullion said he believes the vehicle may have New Jersey tags because there was a license plate on the front of the vehicle, which is required by New Jersey law, although the video is not clear enough to show the tag numbers and letters.
“We are hoping that someone may recognize this vehicle and contact our police department with information. Any caller with information may remain anonymous, and all leads will be followed up by our officers,” he said.
Margate police are investigating the vandalism of three prominently displayed menorahs that was reported during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
“It is possible that this might be an act of anti-Semitism,” said Cantor Ralph Goren, of Beth El Synagogue.
In addition to the one on the pier, menorahs were vandalized outside the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center on Jerome Avenue, which is across the street from Beth El, and at the Sigmund S. Rimm Recreational Complex on Jerome and Amherst avenues.
Photographs of the damage show the arms of the JCC menorah broken off. Other photographs show similar damage, including a menorah that was knocked over and glass broken.
Jack Fox, CEO of the JCC, said the menorah at the JCC was quickly repaired.
State Sen. Colin Bell, a city resident and member of the JCC, said in a statement that “Hate has no home in our community, period.”
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call Scullion or Detective Chris Taroncher at 609-822-1151.
Staff Writers John DeRosier and Lauren Carroll contributed to this report.