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Police investigating vehicle vandalism at gas station in East Concord

Details of some of the damage on the cars that were parked at the Mobil station in East Concord on October 11, 2013. In the top image, deep scratches on the rim of a customer's car. In the bottom image, the letters "GO HO" were scratched into another customer's car. On the owner's truck, the words "GO HOME" were scraped into the back. 

(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Details of some of the damage on the cars that were parked at the Mobil station in East Concord on October 11, 2013. In the top image, deep scratches on the rim of a customer's car. In the bottom image, the letters "GO HO" were scratched into another customer's car. On the owner's truck, the words "GO HOME" were scraped into the back. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

The Concord police are investigating extensive vandalism they believe occurred Monday night at a gas station in East Concord, and have not ruled it out as a possible hate crime.

The incident involved the keying of more than five vehicles, and took place sometime between 5 p.m. Monday and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning at the East Concord Mobil off Exit 16, the police said. Lt. Timothy O’Malley estimated the damage to be roughly $20,000.

Along with seemingly random symbols and streaks, the etchings also appear to spell out words and phrases, including “Go Home” and “Stop,” according to witnesses.

The station’s owner, Fadi Sarkis, who is Lebanese, questioned the motive of the crime.

“I don’t know if it’s hate crime or something else,” Sarkis said.

O’Malley said the incident is under investigation, and that it’s not clear whether Sarkis was the direct target. He described it as criminal mischief.

This was the second act of vandalism at the store since Sept. 17, when someone threw a rock through a building window, O’Malley said. He added that there had also been at least one similar keying incident in East Concord earlier this year, in May, though authorities have not established a direct connection between that incident and this week’s.

Sarkis, who lives in Concord and has owned the business for three years, said five vehicles had extensive exterior damage, two of which were his; the others he was repairing. He said he was shocked when he saw the cars Tuesday morning.

“It’s not even just a scratch, it looked like somebody was drawing maps on them,” he said. “It’s pathetic in a way.”

Sarkis said he moved to the United States more than 20 years ago, and couldn’t recall any serious issues in that time relating to his ethnicity.

He said most of the cars’ owners had come to pick up the damaged vehicles as of yesterday.

“It’s pretty disturbing,” one owner, Erin Woolf, said. She described the other markings as streaks, stars and “x”es.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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