MAHWAH — For the third time in recent months, police are investigating damage to a ritualistic Jewish boundary erected on the town's utility poles.

Chief James Batelli said the latest incident happened on Sunday at round 7:25 in the area of Airmont Avenue and Masonicus Road. The chief said the eruv was "broken and torn away from the pole." In images of the incident, Batelli said a middle-aged male in a black shirt and dark hair can be seen standing near the pole. A middle-aged woman with dark hair, black pants, and either a white or tan shirt can be seen near him and texting on her phone.

In the pictures, Batelli said the woman can be seen standing near a vehicle he described as a black Audi Q5 or Q7. He said the car appears to have a New Jersey registration with license plates possibly starting with W26.

The eruv is a religious boundary that allows observant Orthodox Jews to carry objects outside their home during the Sabbath and holidays. Several Bergen County communities have challenged these boundaries, which are common elsewhere in the state wherever large Jewish communities exist. Religious leaders received permission from the utility companies to attach the markings.

As with the other prior incidents, the chief said Sunday's damage is being investigated as a bias crime.

"It has become a clear pattern of attacks and damage to the eruvim for what they represent," he said. "Hate crimes send a corrupt message that some Americans deserve to be victimized solely because of who they are."

Following the previous incident, a reward of $1,000 was issued by the township for information. Attorney General Christopher Porrino upped the reward to $25,000.

Batelli encourages anyone who might be able to identify the people in question to contact Detective Sgt. Kevin Hebert at 201-529-1000 ext. 220 or email tips@mahwahpd.org. The chief said all information submitted will be kept confidential.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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