PITTSFIELD -- Apparent victims of a hate crime, a city family has beefed up security measures after their house was spray-painted with swastikas and other threatening symbols earlier this month.

Richard Rodriguez had motion-sensing, outdoor flood lights installed at 24 Lucille St., shortly after his single-family home was tagged overnight on Feb. 2.

Besides two swastikas, two depictions of a hangman's gallows and other offensive symbols were drawn on visible sections of the vinyl-sided residence. The homeowner has since temporarily painted over the graffiti until he can repaint the marked up exterior.

"I believe I was targeted," said Rodriguez, of Puerto Rican descent, who moved to Pittsfield from New York's Long Island nearly 14 years ago.

City police officials on Wednesday confirmed they are investigating what appears to be a hate crime.

Rodriguez and his 12-year-old son relocated from a rented home on Harold Street to the Lucille Street house the father purchased in November.

Rodriguez says he's never had a problem living in Pittsfield, until about a year ago when a thief or thieves broken into his Harold Street residence and stole several items, some belonging to his son.

While unrelated events, combined they have left a lasting impression on the Rodriguez boy.

"[My son] is still shaken up by this," he said. "He called me at work a couple days after it happened because he saw fresh footprints in the snow when he got home from school."

Rodriguez has noticed increased police patrols in the area since he reported the incident. In addition, he says his next-door neighbor, who runs a home-based child day care business, is considering installing a video surveillance system as a result of the tagging incident.

Despite the added police presence and home security measures, Rodriguez is paying closer attention to suspicious activity outside his home.

"I still look out the front door," he said. "I never know if someone will return to tag the house."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233