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FBI Investigates Animal Rights Vandalism at Calif. Grocery

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Smashed windows at an East Bay grocery store, but this is no ordinary vandalism case. The FBI is involved and the agency believes animal rights activists are behind this crime. It happened at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue in Berkeley. NBC Bay Area’s Jean Elle is live at the scene with more. (Published Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014)

    Two FBI agents visited a family grocery in Berkeley on Monday to investigate a broken window they believe animal rights activists smashed because the market has a butcher shop.

    Berkleyside first reported the connection between the smashed window the federal investigation on Tuesday.

    The Pappas family has run Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue since 1922. Its front window was smashed around 2 a.m. on July 27, according to owner Nick Pappas. He wasn’t aware of the animal rights connection until the FBI contacted him a few days later, he said.

    "We've had burglaries, we've had hold-ups," Pappas said, not thinking much of the vandalism at first. He was "shocked" when the FBI called shortly afterward. "I guess someone didn't like the fact that we sold meat."

    Berkeleyside reported that the FBI apparently had been monitoring the website of Bite Back, an animal liberation organization based in Florida. The site posted pictures of the broken windows of Star Market in its “Direct Action” section. The magazine received news about the windows from someone who calls himself “veganarchist lone wolf.”

    “On the night of June 26th two windows were smashed at Star Meats in Berkeley CA, a butcher shop that boasts about its organic and locally sourced meat,” the site said. “Cage free, organic, murder is murder and death is death. This is a continuation of last years actions in which windows were smashed out of Waylands Meat Market in Oakland and windows smashed in an East Oakland Burger King.”

    Included in the post was a photo of Star Grocery's smashed windows.

    Neighbors thought the vandalism was a shame.

    "This is a neighborhood treasure," said loyal customer Sandy Friedland. "There is no reason to throw rocks at windows. There are other ways to protest."

    NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.