A Rutherford County couple said they're the target of a hate crime. Someone wrote the words "white power" on one of their vehicles.

Police are investigating this as vandalism but said there could have been biased motivation. Lydia Patterson took the trash out Monday and noticed her car had been trashed instead.

"I was appalled," she said.

"I could not believe in this day and time, someone would have the audacity to come on private property and write 'white power.' I was floored. "She went back inside to get her husband.

"Disgust, very sad feelings," Arthur Patterson said in describing his reaction.

The Pattersons moved into the Royal Glen subdivision about 11 years ago. They were one of the first four families to do so. Now they're wondering why someone would want to target them.

Rutherford County sheriff's deputies were called to make a report.

"I believe it's well intentioned, evil-minded, wicked, racist adults," Arthur Patterson said.The Pattersons said this is not the first time their property has been vandalized.

They said there were other problems about two years ago, although they weren't this severe.

"Somebody put a raccoon in the driveway and stole our angel off the top of our mailbox," said Arthur Patterson.The Pattersons said they are now living in fear that something worse could happen.

"Last night, we couldn't sleep very well because we were up every time we heard an extra noise," Lydia Patterson said. "We're up looking out windows."

A street sign in the neighborhood also appears to have been the target of vandals. The couple are hoping whoever painted the words and a drawing on their Lincoln is caught soon.

A Rutherford County sheriff's representative said the case has been assigned to an investigator, and said he will know more later if this is a simple case of vandalism or a hate crime.