Family finds burning cross

CHARLES COUNTY, MD (CNN) - An interracial south-central Maryland family is shaken after finding a cross burning in their front yard Monday.

The victim, who has chosen not to be identified, said he and his family are devastated after the symbol of racial hatred was set up right outside his front door.

"I have two children. I have a 12-year-old and a 1-year-old daughter," the victim said. "You know? This is, it's nothing to play with."

The victim said sheriff's officers have been constantly patrolling around his residence since the weekend's hate crime.

Charles County Sheriff's spokesperson Diane Richardson said such acts won't be tolerated.

"Well, we don't view this as a small act of vandalism," said Richardson. "I think the symbolism is much larger and we take it very seriously. We want people to come forward if they have information, and we're hoping that an increased reward will get people to talk."

Richardson said hate crimes are on the decline in Charles County since an outburst of racial attacks several years ago, which included the torching of a construction site.

A Southern Poverty Law Center official said between 40 and 50 cross burnings are reported each year. He added that cross burnings are scattered throughout the U.S. - not just in the South.

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