A burning cross planted in a front yard is one of five hate crimes the Salt Lake City Police Department has logged so far this year.

"We have a very small number, but even one is too many," said police Lt. Phil Kirk.Last week, a Salt Lake couple noticed a bright light outside their home on Warnock Avenue. Thinking it was a light from a police car, the pair went outside to discover a burning cross propped against their fence.

A police report said the cross was made of two pieces of wood about three feet long, fastened together with screws. A fire accelerant was used to set the blaze.

The 47-year-old wife told police she had arrived home from work at 2 a.m. Sept. 7 and didn't notice anything unusual until she and her husband spotted the source of light outside. The woman is white and her husband is black. Both said they'd never been targeted in a similar crime before.

Kirk said criminal mischief-hate crimes like the burning cross are tough for investigators to solve.

In this case, the culprit didn't leave a message - aside from the cross.

"We don't really have a lot to go on," Kirk said. "We don't have any strong leads on any suspects."

Earlier this summer, the letters "KKK" were written on different parts of an apartment complex at 900 East and 700 South on three occasions, Kirk said. Police have been continuing to investigate those incidents, Kirk said, and have developed a strong lead.

In 1996, Salt Lake City had nine hate crimes, and last year there were five.