CHARLESTON -- When she first saw the piece of paper inside a plastic bag in her yard Saturday morning, Jennifer Burke thought it was some kind of advertisement.
But the swastika soon made her think otherwise.
"I couldn't believe what it was," Burke said of the note that contained the Nazi symbol along with the words "white power" and other, similar messages.
She said she eventually collected other notes from yards near her residence in the 900 block of Ninth Street in Charleston, a neighborhood she said is also the home to at least four black families.
"I thought it was garbage," Burke said. "I've never seen anything like it. It's frightening to me."
Charleston police received reports of the notes being left in yards in at least three areas of the city last week, police Chief Chad Reed said.
On Tuesday afternoon of last week, witnesses identified a white Dodge Caravan as the vehicle being used when the notes were left in yards in the 100 block of West Polk Avenue, Reed said.
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He said that was the only time the vehicle was sighted. But police also received reports of the notes in 10 block of Grant Avenue and a total of 15 left in the area where Burke lives, he added.
Reed said he believes the notes were left in random locations and no one was targeted specifically.
The notes were placed in plastic bags along with small rocks, presumably to hold them in place after they were left in yards. The notes also included "white lives matter" and a reference to online videos.
"I consider this hate speech," Burke said. "I don't know who did this or why."
Reed said the notes didn't include any specific threats but police will continue to look for the vehicle witnesses identified.
He said he plans to consult with the state's attorney's office and the Charleston city attorney about what legal action could result if the people behind the notes are located.
He encouraged people to continue to notify police if more of the notes are found.