Bias crimes are codified under NJ Rev Stat § 2C:16-1 (2013).
An act of vandalism may be considered a bias crime if
the victim or his property was knowingly selected to be the target of an offense or harassment because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.
The vandalism need not be directed at a religious object in order to constitute a bias crime under the statute.
As an example: vandalism of cars owned by Black families in a particular neighborhood may be a bias crime because the crime was knowingly targeted at the race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity of a specific groups.
Similarly, vandalism of PVC piping used by Jewish groups to form an eruv may be a bias crime because the target was knowingly chosen based on the religion of the group that put it up.
For more information, please see the Guide to Identifying & Understanding Bias Crimes prepared by the NJ Attorney General’s office.