Irvine Doubles Reward in Beth Jacob Synagogue Hate Crime to $10,000

Expletives were tagged on either side of “Jews” on the synagogue wall.

The Irvine City Council on Tuesday night approved a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a hate criminal who tagged Beth Jacob Congregation last month, matching the Anti-Defamation League’s similar contribution to bring the total to $10,000.

“I appreciate the reward offer from the ADL,” said Mayor Don Wagner, who made the motion for the city reward. “The council and I hope that, by the Irvine community doubling it, we will generate more leads while sending the clear message that we will not tolerate hate crimes.

“As I remarked at the City Council meeting last night, with this reward we say to the evil among us that if you do something to any of us, you do it to all of us, and we will come after you.”

“Someone out there knows the identity of this cowardly suspect,” said Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel. “It is my hope that the generous reward offered by the ADL and now the Irvine City Council will motivate a witness to come forward. Meanwhile, our detectives continue to aggressively investigate this malicious hate crime. We remain committed to bringing the suspect to justice.”

The Irvine Police Department received a report around 9 a.m. on Oct. 31 that an anti-Semitic comment had been spray painted along the exterior wall of Beth Jacob Congregation at 3900 Michelson Drive. Surveillance video captured the vandal whose identity was concealed, as you can see in the video cops released.


The ADL offered the initial $5,000 reward at a Nov. 2 press conference at the Irvine Civic Center, where city, police and synagogue officials were quick to note the local crime followed recent anti-Semitic vandalism at Irvine Valley College as well as the Oct. 27 mass killing at a Pittsburgh synagogue, where 11 people died.

Among the news conference attendees was Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, whose district includes Irvine. “Orange County does not tolerate hate crime, it’s a scourge in our society,” he said. “I was horrified and saddened to learn of this anti-Semitic crime against a house of worship. Jewish hate crimes were up last year and they were the second largest group targeted, according to the Orange County Human Relations Commission.”

At the time, Spitzer was in the middle of what would prove to be a successful campaign for Orange County district attorney, which explains why he mentioned that, “Orange County has traditionally been one of the best places to live in the United States. Over the past three years, our way of life has been shattered by individuals engaging in hate crimes. We have seen a 27 percent in hate crimes since 2015 because these cases are not being prosecuted as vigorously as other surrounding counties.

“I am both shocked and angered at the individuals who would commit these acts and also by the fact that our District Attorney’s Office is not committed to stamping out these crimes.”

He vowed to monitor the case to ensure the vandal is brought to justice.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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