NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An 89-year-old woman’s Staten Island home which was damaged in Hurricane Sandy has been left uninhabitable again after burglars burned the house down to cover their tracks over the weekend, according to family members.
Richard Castagna said the two-story New Dorp Beach home was recently renovated after his mother-in-law, Mary Roberts, put $40,000 into it to repair flood damage from Sandy. The burglars took jewelry, two TVs, and found the keys to her grandson’s BMW, which was also stolen, prior to burning the home down, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported Monday.
“She finally moved in two months ago and now this happened to her,” Castagna told 1010 WINS. “They had the house fixed. Now somebody went in there, robbed the house and they put the house on fire maybe to cover the prints.”
The FDNY said 60 firefighters fought the blaze Sunday morning.
“They set the fire in four different places — three down here, one upstairs,” Castagna said.
Roberts was not home at the time of the incident, but upon returning from vacation in Canada she learned the devastating news.
“Why didn’t they rob it and leave the house alone?” Roberts asked Slattery.
The family demanded justice.
“They need to be caught. They need to be brought to justice. People like them shouldn’t be walking the streets,” Roberts’ grandniece, Loren Centineo, told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola.
The incident comes just weeks before Roberts’ 90th birthday celebration, which the family said it planned to hold in August.
“She’s supposed to be celebrating,” Centineo said. “What is there to celebrate now?”
“I think they were cowards, whoever did it. Why take on a 90-year-old woman?” Centineo added. “For what? A few extra dollars and a car? So, take the car. Why burn the house down?”
Castagna said his mother-in-law stayed with him while repairs were being made after Sandy and will likely move back in with him.
“I had her for three months with the storm. Now it’s going to take another couple of months,” Castagna said.
Roberts said she may not go back to the home.
“I’m gonna worry, what if I’m sleeping and they come in again. No, I can’t go through that again. I’m not going to go through that,” Roberts told Slattery.
Burglar tools were found at the scene, including a crowbar, but so far police said they have not located the stolen car nor the criminals.
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