SUISUN CITY, Calif. (KTVU) - Suisun City Police are investigating several cases of auto vandalism as possible hate crimes because of the racist graffiti left behind.
Photos sent to KTVU by a victim show slurs against African Americans scrawled in red spray paint, across the vehicles' hoods and sides.
"There was some bad, bad words on there," resident George Houston told KTVU, after he found his neighbor's new convertible defaced Sunday morning.
"I looked out and I thought what's that on the back end of her car, so I walked out there, and oh man," Houston recalled. "I have no idea what the purpose was, other than just hate, you know."
The car's owner is a single mom with a young daughter, who did not want to be identified.
"When we went and got her, and she came out, she started crying when she saw it, " Houston's daughter Gail told KTVU, "and I cried too because it was awful."
Around the corner in the same complex, an SUV is parked, still showing red paint smears where it was tagged with threatening and bigoted epithets.
Vandals also smashed the windshield and a rear window with a baseball bat. The vehicle's owner is also African American, and a single mom, too fearful to be identified or interviewed.
"What was written on there was very disturbing, threatening, and derogatory," Suisun City Police Chief Tim Mattos told KTVU.
"I don't know what the intent was, and until I know that, we're going to look at that as a message that was sent to somebody."
Mattos calls the incident "intolerable" in his diverse city of some 30,000 people.
His officers have canvassed the area, door to door, looking for leads. The well-tended complex, on Humphrey Drive, does not have security cameras or patrols.
A third resident's minivan was tagged too, with just one word, "DIE".
"You can still see the red mark " owner Alvin Dadia told KTVU, pointing to his driver's side door panel. "I tried to clean it up a little bit so my kids wouldn't see the letters."
Dadia tends to think this is more of a prank, than a threat.
"Most people here, there's different kinds of people who live here, and we're all together," he exclaimed, "it's not like back in the sixties or fifties you know?"
Two more cars were marked at an apartment building next door. On one hood, a vulgarity, on the other, numerals associated with a street gang.
That complex has a surveillance system, but both cars were parked on the perimeter, outside the range of the cameras.
As they investigate, police are increasing patrols in the area. They don't know what to make of the racial slurs, but want to reassure the victims, they are safe.
"We have a duty to them to figure out what happened," declared Chief Mattos, "If it is just an act of vandalism, that's one thing, but until we know that, we're going to take it seriously."