MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) –  Police confirmed Tuesday evening they arrested a man in connection to vandalism of a sign in front of a Miami Beach temple.

Miami Beach Police identified the man arrested as 43-year old Maximo De La Cruz- De Jesus. Investigators said he is homeless and was identified via fingerprints they found on the vandalized sign. He was also positively identified by a witness, according to police.

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He faces one charge of criminal mischief on a place of worship, according to his arrest report.

Authorities said they received a call just before 3 a.m. about someone scribbling graffiti on the sign located at the entrance to the Temple Emanu-el at 1701 Washington Avenue.

When officers arrived they found a swastika, the letters “KKK”, the number 33 and various words drawn on the sign.

“My first feeling is one of shock, but I think more importantly disappointment,” said Rabbi Henry Abramson.

Click here to watch the report. 

“This is a message of hate not only for our community. It’s a message of hate in Miami Beach, said Rabbi Marc Phillipe.

Surveillance video shows a man with a backpack walk up to the building to draw a swastika on a banner along with the words “all out war” and the letters KKK. The he goes out of view. A short time later a second person with a flash light appears on the video and it looks like he is saying something to the man wearing the back pack. The man with the back pack appears back on camera and then walks away.

“They think that maybe they’re doing a prank, they’re not,” said temple director Barbara Breswlo. “This isn’t a prank. This is very serious. We’re taking this very seriously.”

Rabbi Phillipe said this is not the first time something like this has happened at the temple.

“Two weeks ago, we had a hatred letter left in our restrooms and unfortunately the authorities didn’t think it was too serious, but it was obviously serious because this happens two weeks later in the front of the synagogue,” said Phillipe.

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(Source: Temple Emanu-el)

(Source: Temple Emanu-el)

Police are taking this very seriously too.  The Miami Beach Police Chief made a personal visit to the scene at Temple Emanu-el.  He refused to discuss the case, but said he’s looking for any connection between recent cases.

On Saturday, September 6th, police said someone painted a cartoonish red “V” and “J” along with a swastika and letters KKK on the rear wall of a Publix grocery store at 9400 Harding Avenue in Surfside.

A red letter “V” and the swastika symbol were also painted on the street in the 9500 block of Bay Drive.

Roughly 20 miles away in West Miami, the same symbol of hate was lightly sketched into a wall of a Jewish temple at SW 8th street. The word “Iraq” was also scribbled above the swastika.

“The Anti-Defamation League is outraged and deeply concerned with the latest rash of apparent hate crimes against two Miami-Dade synagogues. Given these new incidents in conjunction with other recent incidents in Miami-Dade and the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, the Jewish community is understandably shaken and apprehensive,” said Anti-Defamation League Florida Regional Director Hava Holzhauer.

Less than two months ago, there were a series of anti-Semitic vandalism incidents in North Miami Beach, including the targeting of Congregation Torah V’Emunah in North Miami Beach and a Jewish family’s cars in Miami Beach.  Furthermore, the horrific murder of Rabbi Raksin just a month ago to date remains unsolved.

“Just today, we’re observing the 30 days of a murder of a rabbi in North Miami Beach,” said Rabbi Phillipe.

The Anti-Defamation League, Jewish leaders and area police departments held a security seminar today at the Jewish Federal of Miami.  They’re urging members of the community to report anything suspicious.  They’re especially concerned because of the growing number of incidents, coupled with the fact that high holy days are approaching.

If you have information on any of these incidents call police or Miami Dade Crimestoppers at 305-471-tips.

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