An elderly Staten Island resident whose home was destroyed in superstorm Sandy returned from a vacation this week to find her recently-rebuilt house burglarized and torched to the ground.
Mary Roberts, 89, said that she had only moved back into her home in the New Dorp Beach section of Staten Island two months ago. She had to rebuild the home completely after the October 2012 storm devastated communities along the East Coast and destroyed parts of Roberts' home.
"We had to throw everything out, break walls. They fixed it beautifully and we made a new home out of it. I was so content in it," Roberts said.
Earlier this month, Roberts went on a vacation to Canada with her extended family. When she returned on Monday, her son drove past her house first, and saw that it had been devastated again, this time by fire.
"My son told me he had bad news to tell me in the car, he said, 'Your house was burglarized and set on fire,'" Roberts said.
"I just moved back in at the end of April," she said. "They ransacked everything, opened drawers, took keys to my grandson's BMW. They took them and took the car, stole the car."
Roberts said she had been robbed previously since she moved back into the house in April. That time, robbers came in through her window and left through the front door with her purse, money, checkbook, credit cards and identification.
This time, she said, she took her vital belongings with her, but lost valuable jewelry and paperwork, along with her clothing, in the burglary and fire.
The New York Police Department said they are investigating the fire as an arson and believe the house was burglarized. They have not identified any suspects in the crimes.
Roberts said that she couldn't bear to go to the site of the house fire and look at her home, and plans to sell the property once she rebuilds.
"I'm not ready to look at it. It's all boarded up. I'll fix it up a little bit and then put a 'For Sale' sign up," she said. "I'm going to look for a place, a little room or something."
Roberts is staying with her daughter in the meantime, she said. She will turn 90 years old next month.