A Colorado couple says they are the victims of a hate crime because someone stole a “VOTE SATAN” sign from their front porch, but police say the incident sounds more like simple theft.
Luigi and Angie Bellaviste describe themselves as Satanists who belong to the Church of Satan, an organization “dedicated to the acceptance of man’s true nature – that of a carnal beast.” They believe whoever cut down the fabric sign from the porch of their home in Mountain View, a suburb of Denver, was targeting them because of their religious beliefs.
“I feel like we’re being treated unfairly because it’s not a so-called mainstream religion,” Luigi Bellaviste told CBS4 in Denver.
“I know of people that have the Virgin Mary in their yard and tons of Jesus, Love Jesus, I Love Jesus. What’s the difference?” added Angie Bellaviste.
The couple reported the red, white and blue sign stolen on Saturday.
Police contacted neighbors but nobody saw anything. Other items on the couple’s property, including a black Christmas tree, were left untouched.
“Had that been the Star of David or a verse from the Quran or something like that that got damaged by somebody against those beliefs, that certainly wold have been considered a hate crime,” Luigi Bellaviste told CBS4.
But Mountain View Police Cmdr. Mark Nicastle said there was nothing to indicate the couple was targeted for their religious beliefs.
“There was no other indication of threats or evidence left behind that somebody was after him because of his worship or anything like that,” Nicastle told msnbc.com on Tuesday.
He said police were treating the crime as simple theft, with the value of the sign estimated at $20.