updated 1/10/2008 12:09:40 PM ET 2008-01-10T17:09:40

Hundreds of headstones at a Jewish cemetery were toppled, and authorities are investigating the desecration as a bias crime.

A police spokesman initially said anti-Semitism wasn't being considered as a possible motive after nearly 500 headstones were found toppled Sunday morning at the Poile Zedek Cemetery. But Sgt. Richard Rowe said Wednesday that he had misspoke.

The desecration was discovered about a week after 17 headstones were toppled at the same cemetery. Police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office were investigating; authorities did not immediately return calls Thursday seeking further detail.

Rabbi Abraham Mykoff of the Poile Zedek Synagogue told the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick that a reward of several thousand dollars was being offered for information.

"This was not vandalism," Mykoff said Tuesday. "This was malicious intent to destroy a Jewish cemetery."

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