Staten Island, NY – “You have this riff raff, this element, that’s underlying everything, that’s just waiting to pounce. They’re like vultures,” said Ray Weiler, a resident of the hard-hit area of Ocean Breeze, who is grateful for the pumped up the police presence now in his neighborhood.
But that increased presence came after thieves broke into his Sandy-ravaged home a few weeks ago and caused thousands of dollars in damage. The criminals were after the copper water and heating pipes and they cut off as many as they could.
“The plumbing alone is going to cost me $3,200 just to fix that. That’s not the sheetrock, or plywood or insulation. Then, I still have to worry about mold. We already had remediation done but everything is all wet again!” explained Weiler.
Since the family has been living in a rental in Oakwood Heights since Sandy, a neighbor alerted Weiler to the burglary, who raced over to his home at three in the morning.
“It was like walking back into Sandy, you know, water everywhere,” said Weiler, shaking his head.
Dedicated to staying in their home, the Weilers had already started the long process of rebuilding. Ray’s wife Jeanne said, “All of that was for nothing. Now, we have to replace all of that again.”
They are not the only ones, dealing with consequences of this crime.
In the past month, thieves hit at least three more unoccupied Sandy homes, just like the Weilers.
That spurred calls of concern to the local police and politicians, resulting in the recent ramping up of police patrols.
Cops have already caught three people they say are responsible for the Weiler burglary as well as another house.
“Ever since then, it’s been outstanding, you can’t go around the corner without seeing a cop car,” said Weiler.
With four boys, rent, a mortgage, and his childhood home to rebuild, Weiler is also dealing with Stage 4 throat cancer. All he wants is to get his family back into their home by Christmas but it’s tough to get through each day when things like this happen.
“It’s heart-breaking. To go thru Sandy is enough. And enough is enough.”
Keep in mind, like many Sandy victims, the Weilers are also still fighting with insurance companies and not able to afford rent on top of a mortgage on top of all of the out-of-pocket rebuilding costs.
Fortunately, for them, the Tunnels to Towers foundation, stepped up to help and is footing the plumbing bill.
“A huge help. They have just been amazing,” said Weiler.