Homeowner Richard Candlish told
CBS LosAngeles that his decorations are meant to bring smiles to the kids in his neighborhood.
“Unfortunately, I had several children come by and their parents had to take them away,” Candlish said.
That's because he woke up on Sunday morning only to find the Nativity scene he spent a month putting together, vandalized.
"It probably took less than 15 minutes for someone just to deface all of it," he said.
Someone scrawled “HAIL Hitler” and drew a Hitler-style mustache on the baby Jesus outside his home Huntington Beach likely with a black Sharpie pen, police said.
“They misspelled HEIL," he said. "It really goes to the ignorance of the people who did it.”
According to NBC LosAngeles
the vandal(s) also put a Nazi symbol on one of his wise men. The same Hitler comment was spray painted on one of the three wise men, Candlish said.
Candlish reported it to police and cleaned up the scene he said usually gives him a sense of pride. This morning, he said sadly, he feels a sense of vulnerability.
He wasn't alone. Just down the street, similar graffiti — including swastikas — was also found this morning scrawled on a nativity scene outside St. Bonaventure Church
Parishoners called police at 9 a.m. to report the vandalism. Police say they’re investigating this as a possible hate crime.
“It’s sad to think that somebody would do it because they hate St. Bonaventure. Or they didn’t like Catholics. I mean it’s just sad," Dani Degrood, a church parishioner said. "Then you have to wonder why else would they do it."
Parishioners told CBS news that the nativity display is meant to bring the community together during the holiday season.
Added Degrood,”I thought it was horrible. We put out a really nice display for the community. And our parish community. And it’s really sad for someone to take it upon themselves to wreck it for everyone.”
Other parishoners were more blunt.
"Who would do such a thing?" St. Bonaventure Church parishoner Max Periolat, 10, told
MSN.com. "If I saw them I would give them a whopper."
No suspects have been identified in either case.