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Breezy Point stays vigilant

A house in Breezy Point inches toward restoration as residents work to rebuild amid burglary worries. Photo by Steve Mosco
TimesLedger Newspapers

Residents who have finished fighting fires and floodwaters in Breezy Point are now dealing with a new scourge: thieves.

After the peninsula’s beachside dream spiraled into an epic nightmare when Hurricane Sandy came to town last month, the houses that remained were left vulnerable to humanity’s worst. According to police, three homes were broken into over the Thanksgiving holiday and crooks stole laptops, jewelry and cash from another 14 homes from Nov. 12 through Nov. 18.

One week after the holiday, it was obvious the police had escalated patrols and surveillance in response to the break-ins, as mobile units became a constant sight in the neighborhood and floodlights towered over street corners ready to reveal the night after darkness fell.

“It’s a vulnerable feeling,” said one resident near Utica Walk and 4th Avenue, just off Beach 217th St., who spends four or fives hours every day cleaning up the superstorm’s mess. “We’re not spending our nights here because there’s no heat or electricity, so there’s a lot of laying awake at night wondering about my home.”

Breezy Point is dotted with 2,800 homes ranging from modest bungalows to soaring two-story houses surrounded by imposing decks. More than 100 of those homes were completely destroyed by fire the night of the storm, while some of the remaining structures sit skewed on their foundations with decks that are buckled and warped from the storm surge waves.

Isolated on the west end of the Rockaway Peninsula, the community is reachable only by a bridge leading to a single road, with a guard station standing at the entrance.

One resident, who was walking his dog through the sand-covered streets, wondered how anyone could breeze into the neighborhood undetected. Police said thieves probably slipped in and out of the community during the early morning hours.

Marian Lizzi, who has been spending summers in Breezy Point since she was a little girl, said she had heard about the break-ins but was far too busy with the ongoing cleanup to fret over potential burglaries. Despite the hardships, Lizzi remains steadfast in her determination to make Breezy Point a quaint community once again.

“Everyone is keeping a positive attitude,” she said. “It’s unbelievable what’s happened here, but everyone I’ve talked to said they are going to rebuild.”

Lizzi said most residents have set July Fourth as the target date for a return to the serene beach life, but she believes most are anxious to return much earlier.

“Everyone keeps saying, ‘See you on the beach,’” she said. “When we’ll be back is really anyone’s guess. But there is nowhere else we’d rather be.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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