The desecration of a shrine in Manorville has touched off an investigation by hate crimes detectives.
Suffolk County police said "symbols and letters" were spray-painted on walls, benches and walkways at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island, a 70-acre site on Eastport Manor Road, sometime between Aug. 9 and 10.
The shrine, dedicated in October 1976, was established by the Missionaries of the Company of Mary as a center of Marian spirituality and devotion, according to the shrine's website, as well as to renew Catholic life in the Diocese of Rockville Centre "through liturgy, preaching and pilgrimages."
A prominent feature of the site is an 18-foot-tall statue of Mary and the Christ child atop a huge boulder known as "The Rock." Set on one of the highest points on Long Island, the site features outdoor Mass at The Rock starting in late April and running through to the fall and also provides opportunities to participate in an outdoor Stations of the Cross and rosary walk.
Police are asking anyone with information regarding the incident to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. Tipsters also can text "SCPD" and a message to "CRIMES" (274637) or email police at www.tipsubmit.com. All calls, text messages and emails will remain confidential, police said.
A cash reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for any information leading to an arrest in the case.