(JTA) — An arson attack last year on cars in predominately Jewish Midwood reportedly is being investigated as an insurance scam instead of a hate crime.
The attack on Nov. 11, the day after Kristallnacht commemorations, included the spray-painting with anti-Semitic graffiti of the nearby sidewalk and park benches on or near Ocean Parkway. Elected officials and Jewish leaders roundly condemned the attack.
Police sources told local media, including the New York Daily News and the New York Post, that the cars were likely set alight in order to collect insurance money, and the graffiti was spray-painted in the area to make the attack look more like a realistic hate crime.
The owners of the cars did not live in the neighborhood where they were torched, and beer bottles found at the scene were wiped clean of fingerprints, which police said pointed away from an act of hate.
A police spokesman told the Daily News that police had not ruled out a bias crime. The New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force investigated the incident.
Brooklyn Senator Marty Golden, a Republican, said the incident showed the need for insurance reform that would change New York's "no-fault" system and make it harder for fraudsters to profit.
"These crooks have reached a new low," said Golden in a statement. "These despicable thugs have been ripping us off for years, driving up insurance rates and risking lives. Now, they're dividing and terrorizing our neighborhoods, just so they can make a quick buck. What has to happen for the state to get serious about reforming our auto insurance laws?"