Police investigating racist vandalism in Woodbridge

Prince William County Police are investigating after a Woodbridge family found the N-word and other slurs spray-painted on their property Monday.

The family, which FOX 5 agreed not to identify, says they are originally from Nigeria.

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A resident noticed the grafitti at the home off Rush Drive while taking out the trash.

The N-word was painted on their garage door, while derogatory words for sex workers were painted on a fence and car.

The resident told FOX 5 she does not believe the crime was random, but police have not released any suspect information.

When asked if the crime was being investigated as a hate crime, a police spokesman said,  "There is no hate crime with vandalism in Virginia."

That doesn't appear to be correct under Virginia law, which defines hate crime as "a criminal act committed against a person or his property with the specific intent of instilling fear or intimidation in the individual against whom the act is perpetrated..."

When FOX 5 was speaking with the family a neighbor offered to paint over the vandalism, saying many neighbors were also shaken by the racist language.

In an updated statement from Prince William County Police, they clarified to FOX 5 this crime may be classified as a hate crime administratively, but say under Virginia law there is no hate-crime enhancement for vandalism. 

In a statement to FOX 5 a spokesman clarified: 

"To reiterate, there's a difference between something that can be defined as a hate crime vs what can be criminally charged by law enforcement. Just because an incident can't be charged, doesn't mean we can't classify it as having a hate bias/motivation. However, that classification is an administrative process, different and independent from criminal court proceedings."