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Targeted for being a sex offender? Man's Elkhart pizza shop vandalized

6-7-2012 Indiana:

A convicted sex offender said vandals stole money and spray painted references that he was a pedophile outside his pizza shop.

Darren Cornell, who co-owns DC's Pizza in Elkhart with his wife, said he has his suspicions the crime could have been committed by an employee or someone he knows.

Officers are investigating $80 in missing money from the tip jar and the till. Outside there's a shattered window and broken glass, and contrasting paint to cover up letters someone spray painted by the door. While thieves took all of the cash inside the restaurant, none of the equipment inside the restaurant was damaged and a flat-screen TV was not taken.

In front of the building, paint covered up the letters “PEDI.” Cornell said it's short for “pedophile. “

Cornell believes his business was vandalized because he's on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry.

"In my mind it's a hate crime," said Cornell. "I don't feel it be any different if someone came to your house and threw a brick through your window because you're African-American," Cornell said to WSBT-TV.

Cornell was convicted at age 17 for inappropriately touching a 14-year-old relative. He served most of his 9-month sentence 8 years ago.

"The way the system is set up people look at me the same way somebody raped someone's grandma, or some serial killer rapist. They look at me differently, it's not right," he said.

Charles Bowen, a senior parole agent in St. Joseph County, said vigilante crimes against registered offenders are rare.

"So many of these offenses are committed within the family or within a close association with the family," said Bowen. "It's not real common."

"This is the first incident, I hope it's the last one," said Cornell.

One thing investigators might consider is Cornell's ties to another business – DC Burgers across the street, which recently closed for good.

We asked if workers there hadn't been paid, Cornell said “it was a rumor.” ..Source.. by

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