The Sheriff's Office is investigating a possible hate crime in Aldie.
The incident was reported when homeowners on the 24000 block of Laceys Tavern Court discovered severe damage to their property the morning of Saturday, July 29. According to the Sheriff's Office, 70 sapling trees were cut down, 100 boxwood bushes were pulled from the ground and an accelerant was poured over part of the front lawn. Antigay slang was spray painted on the driveway, mailbox, the street in front of the house and on the lawn, prompting the Sheriff's Office to label the incident a hate crime, Sheriff's Office spokesperson Kraig Troxell said.
The damage was estimated at $5,500 by the Sheriff's Office, but Troxell said the homeowners have said the amount is closer to $10,000.
The homeowners had been in conflict with their neighbors over several items, including the destroyed saplings, but the previous complaints do not mean the incident was not a hate crime, Troxell said.
"We can't pinpoint that that is the root of the problem," he said.
While hate crimes are a rare occurrence in Loudoun County, Troxell said the Sheriff's Office is going to look closely at the incident to determine if it stemmed from the neighborhood dispute or if there is something more in play.
"You feel violated enough when someone destroys your property, but to have someone attack you on a personal level and the use of an accelerant takes it to another level," he said.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the Sheriff's Criminal Investigation Division at 703-777-0475. To place an anonymous tip, call Crime Solvers at 703-777-1919. A caller with information that leads to an arrest and an indictment could be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.