12/27/2012 09:59 EST | Updated 02/26/2013 05:12 EST

Hamilton cricket club robbed, vandalized in possible hate crime

A cricket club in east Hamilton had its scoreboard burned, its pitch torn up and its trailer ransacked in an incident that's being considered by police as a possible hate crime.

Members of the Stoney Creek Cricket Academy (SCCA) reported a large amount of property destroyed or stolen when they discovered the damage on Christmas Day around 1:30 p.m. ET, police said.

"We went to check the ground and everything was messed up there," Raman Mandar, a player on the team, told CBC Hamilton. "I don't know when it happened, but we found it on Tuesday."

He said he and other team members found the trailer, which held their sporting gear, littered with beer cans and sprayed with graffiti.

Almost all of the cricket equipment had been stolen, Mandar said.

The vandals had also burned several Canadian flags the team used to line the field, as well as their scoreboard.

"Dirt bikes had driven over the cricket pitch and damaged the whole thing," added Harjit Punia, the team's general secretary.

This is not the first time the SCCA has been robbed. In August, thieves took their riding lawnmower, which the team had purchased for about $2,000.

"We are not making any money from this," he said. "We are playing with our own money without any help. So it hurts very badly."

Adding insult to injury, the graffiti contained ethnic slurs that targeted people of South Asian descent.

"It was very racist," Mandar said.

The SSCA has been active since 2008, but played on a field behind Cathedral Catholic Secondary School in downtown Hamilton for three years. The field in Stoney Creek is their new home turf, and players say they hadn't experienced anything negative until their move this season.

Mandar said he figures the culprits were teenagers, adding that in the summer, members of his team had a confrontation with a group of youths who hurled racial epithets.

“That’s what makes this a hate crime,” said Catherine Martin, a police spokesperson, of the graffiti.

The Hamilton police hate crime unit is still investigating the incident, she noted.