A Jewish pensioner fled her home after racist vandals sprayed a swastika on her car.

The 64-year-old was so distressed when she discovered the graffiti outside her flat in Whitehawk, Brighton, that she ended up in hospital.

Community leaders have condemned the crime and appealed for people who know the culprit to turn them in.

The woman went to the Royal Sussex County Hospital for treatment on Tuesday after discovering the tyres on her car, which was parked outside Heron Court in Swanborough Place, had been let down and a swastika sprayed on the bodywork.

Inspector Bill Whitehead said: “It is plainly a racially motivated offence.

"We are investigating it and welcome any information that could lead to the people responsible. It is a cowardly attack against an elderly lady.”

The Argus was unable to contact the woman last night.

She is understood to have travelled to London to stay temporarily in a retirement home while looking for somewhere else to live.

Shocked community

People living and working in Whitehawk spoke of their shock at the anti-semitic crime yesterday (May 2).

Andy Silsby, a community development worker for the area, said: “It is disgusting. There have been very few issues to do with any form of hate crime in the area.

"I’d call on the community, if they know of any information, to pass it on to the authorities. We cannot tolerate this sort of thing.”

Faith Matyszak, vice-chairwoman of the Whitehawk Crime Prevention Forum, said: “Quite honestly I’m disgusted. We went through this in the 1930s.

“Whitehawk as a whole is a good place to live. We don’t need anything that is racist in any shape or form.

“We won’t accept it.”

Councillor Warren Morgan, a Labour member for the ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Thankfully incidents of racism are rare in Whitehawk and relatively low in the city as a whole.

“However, the message must go out that racism will not be tolerated, whether in personal disputes or random racially motivated crimes.”

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said it would work with the woman if she needed help.

He said: “We work with the police through the city’s partnership community safety team to support victims of hate crime.

“Our aim is to help victims get their lives back to normal wherever possible while also bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“In this instance, the neighbourhood policing team are taking the lead in supporting the victim and investigating the incident.

"Additional support will be provided by our caseworkers if that is felt to be necessary and helpful.”