On a busy-stretch of the Bedford Highway, a billboard advertises a garden centre, but only the sharpest-eyed motorists would notice it's now also advertising something else.

Up the road, a familiar symbol has also appeared on a retaining wall, and inside a bus shelter outside Mount Saint Vincent University.

Although definitions vary, the general consensus is it's a symbol of anarchy, a political-system advocating self-governed societies, and Haligonians have been seeing a lot of it lately.

Catholic church officials were stunned Monday morning to discover St. Theresa’s Church on Oxford Street covered in anti-religious graffiti and anarchist symbols, with the situation even worse at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

The marble statues and offensive-phrases have since been covered, effectively silencing whatever message the group hoped to send.

Mary Hale is a religious studies professor at Saint Mary’s University and she’s bewildered by what the vandals have targeted.

“You only attack societal structures and societal institutions that have some sort of power,” she says.

While Hale acknowledges it's usually smaller religions that are singled-out by those wanting to cause a stir, it's clear the perpetrators in this case might not even be aware of what some of their symbols actually mean.

In religious circles, for example, an inverted cross usually refers to Saint Peter.

“So, what this indicates to me is that the people who are doing this graffiti are not particularly educated … about religious symbolism,” Hale said.

Although the number of cases is adding up, police aren't convinced there's a pattern at the moment, but the investigation could ramp-up quickly if that changes.

The complaints have been assigned to the officer who normally investigates graffiti, says Nancy Miller of the Halifax Regional Police Crime Prevention division.

If it’s determined there’s a connection, that officer will refer it to the criminal investigations division, Miller said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.