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89-Year-Old Sandy Victim's Home Burglarized and Torched, Family Says

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 15, 2013 3:34pm
 Family said the home of Mary Roberts, 89, which was recently renovated after Hurricane Sandy, was set fire by a burglar on Sunday, July 14, 2013.
Center Place Fire
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NEW DORP BEACH — An 89-year-old Hurricane Sandy victim's recently renovated home was completely destroyed again, after a burglar set fire to it on Sunday morning, family members said.

The intruder set four separate fires in 89-year-old Mary Roberts' Center Place home, which she moved back into three months ago after the storm flooded her first floor, the Staten Island Advance first reported.

“You're just devastated,” her great niece, Loren Centineo, 31, told DNAinfo.com New York. “It was like a brand new house. Now it’s like Sandy times two.”

Roberts was not home at the time of the fire. Instead she was on a vacation with her daughter in Canada, Centineo said.

Centineo said that drawers were emptied and left on the floor, and the burglar made way with two T.V. sets and Roberts’ 1993 BMW M3 before torching the home.

“It was in broad daylight,” Centineo said. “They even shut the gate.”

Police told DNAinfo.com New York an unknown person set four separate fires in the home at around 10:43 a.m. on Sunday, but did not receive a report about the burglary.

The family however, says that they filed a report about the burglary.

According to the FDNY, the fire was under control by 11:15 a.m., and Fire Marshals are currently investigating the incident.

One of the four fires were set on the second floor of the two-family home, and the whole house sustained massive fire, water and smoke damage making it unlivable again.

A few pictures and personal belongs were left intact on the first floor, but almost everything else — including Roberts’ bedroom — was completely destroyed.

The family has not ventured to the second floor yet to survey the damage, fearing for the structures integrity because the ceiling was crumbling.

This wasn’t the first time burglars hit the home. Her son-in-law, Richard Castagna, 68, said they took $300 from Roberts purse while she was sleeping a month ago, which family say they reported to the cops.

Roberts cut her trip short and was on her way back Monday afternoon, but Castagna said they haven’t told her about her home yet.

“It’s just hard to break it to her right now,” Castagna, a retired printer, said.

The family was in the process of planning a surprise party for Roberts, who will turn 90 in two weeks.

Roberts was displaced for five months after Sandy and lived with Castagna. She moved back into her home about three months ago.

Centineo said the costs to get the home repaired after the storm totaled around $40,000, and Roberts only received a little help from FEMA.

The family plans to have her stay with Castagna again, until they can get the home rebuilt yet again.

“I really don’t know how she’s going to react to it,” Centineo said.