Wealthy inhabitants of the Hamptons are increasingly hardening their homes, turning pricey and already impressive mansions into “fortresses equipped with bulletproof glass, weaponry and panic rooms,” according to the New York Post.
> “I sleep with a gun underneath my pillow: a Walther PPK/S, the same one James Bond carried,” said John Catsimatidis, owner of Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods, who has a vacation property in East Quogue. “[My wife] Margo prefers a shotgun. Although, once, she thought she heard something, got the shotgun out and shot through the door.”
What is the cause of such alarm?
> The billionaire and his family, like others in the Hamptons, are shaken up over concerns that the vicious Salvadorian gang MS-13 is too close for comfort. In April, members of the gang massacred four young men behind a soccer field in Central Islip. Three months later, a Hampton Bays brothel raided by police was found to be tagged with an MS-13 sign. And in 2016, a man with MS-13 connections broke into a Southampton home and sexually assaulted a woman.
> Last year, Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki publicly expressed concern that the gang might spread further east. When he deployed police equipped with antiterrorism gear, including automatic weapons, along the perimeters of summer 2017 charity galas, locals took note.
Those in the security business say business is booming: despite the steep price — tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars — everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses.
> “The big thing [with homeowners] in the Hamptons is that if somebody has it, they [all] want it,” said Chris Cosban, a Long Island contractor who installs panic rooms in the area’s mansions. His company, Covert Interiors, charges between $25,000 and $200,000 for a standard space. (High-tech add-ons, such as fingerprint recognition, cost extra.) “There is a wow factor,” he said. “They like to brag about it.”
> Herman Weisberg, managing director of the personal-security firm Sage Intelligence Group, said many of his clients look at their panic rooms like amenity spaces — doubling as home theaters, wine cellars or even gun vaults where weapons can be safely displayed.
> “People used to open up their garages and show off their Lamborghinis,” Weisberg said. “Now they take guests to the wine bar in their safe room.”
> Catsimatidis, who, in addition to worrying about MS-13 has also had his home broken into, is installing infrared sensors at his place. But that’s nothing compared to the security measures that Al Corbi, president of SAFE (Strategically Armored & Fortified Environments), an architecture-focused security firm, has designed for customers, including Hamptonites.
He said he finished a system on the West Coast that cost $100 million:
> “That sounds like a lot but there is nothing I know of, human or manmade, that could possibly harm this family for three generations, including global nuclear holocaust, a pandemic or a second Ice Age.” Plus, he added, “It’s like a Ritz-Carlton underground.”