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Vandals cause $40K - $60K damage to cemetery headstones

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Damage seen in the Hebrew Sick Benefit Cemetery in West Kildonan Wednesday after weekend vandalism.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Damage seen in the Hebrew Sick Benefit Cemetery in West Kildonan Wednesday after weekend vandalism. Photo Store

Winnipeg police are investigating after a number of headstones were damaged at a cemetery located north of Garden City over the weekend.

Approximately 20-25 headstones were knocked over at the Hebrew Sick Benefit Cemetery, which is located on McPhillips Street just north of Swailes Avenue.

Police say the vandalism occurred sometime between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.

The damage and cost to right the headstones is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000.

Jonathan Buchwald, executive director of Etz Chayim Synagogue, which oversees the cemetery, says the damage was confined to two rows in a couple of sections.

"In the grand scheme of things, (the damage) was fairly minimal," Buchwald said Wednesday. "Police are investigating. At this point, there’s no graffiti and no evidence that it’s anything more than just kids goofing around and thinking that they’re smart.

"We believe many of them could just be put back," he said. "Our crews are looking at that. It doesn’t look like there was any actual physical damage to the stones."

Buchwald said the cemetery is in the process of alerting the affected families on what happened. He didn’t have a definitive timeline on when the stones would be set back in place.

Winnipeg police say there's no indication it was a crime motivated by hate.

"We hate to see it," said police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen, adding it was hard to imagine a more disrespectful act.

Investigators are gathering information and possible surveillance camera footage to try and find suspects, Michalyshen said.

Anyone with information regarding this incident or the identity of the suspects is asked to contact Winnipeg Police Service investigators (204) 986-2848 or Crime Stoppers at (204) 786-TIPS (8477).

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM CDT: Changes lede paragraph

11:51 AM: Adds comment from Const. Jason Michalyshen

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