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MONROE - A Williamstown homeowner received a disturbing phone call from her daughter on New Year's Day.

Joanne Thalman, who was in the Poconos for the holiday, was told by her daughter Jeanine that someone had spray-painted a swastika on her garage. The vandal didn't stop there, however: He or she also defaced the molding around the front door of their Arlington Drive home, and wrote obscenities on the Thalmans' vehicle indicating the couple was specifically targeted.

"It was horrible," Thalman said. "My daughter and 5-year-old grandson were there alone, and my daughter found it."

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"We have all been terribly shaken up," another daughter, Jacalyn Thalman, wrote in an email to the Courier-Post.

The Monroe Township Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime, said Capt. David Dailey.

"It's under investigation, and we hope to wrap it up quickly, but we also don't want to miss anything," Dailey told the Courier-Post.

The incident also was reported to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office as a hate crime, he noted.

Thalman said her husband, Jack, is German and the family isn't actually Jewish. She said she believes a personal dispute might have led to their home being targeted.

The vandals painted "Jo" and "F U JT," apparent references to the couple.

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"We've lived here over 40 years," she said. "We've never had any problems. It's a nice neighborhood; we think it's pretty brazen that someone would do this here."

Police have been patrolling the area, keeping an eye on the house, she said. Neighbors expressed horror and shock, and other family members scrubbed the graffiti from the house. 

"It's still creepy," Thalman admitted. "We have this fear now."

Phaedra Trethan: @CP_Phaedra; 856-486-2417; ptrethan@gannettnj.com

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