Millionaires in the Hamptons Are Building Luxury Panic Rooms to Hide from MS-13 Gang

Chris Cosban of Covert Interiors heads inside a panic room he built in a home he sold to a friend. (Stefano Giovannini)
Chris Cosban of Covert Interiors heads inside a panic room he built in a home he sold to a friend. (Stefano Giovannini)

There is a specter haunting the Hamptons — one that’s turning some of the priciest properties in the country into fortresses equipped with bulletproof glass, weaponry and panic rooms.

“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.”

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.

One Southampton homeowner, who requested to remain anonymous for security reasons, recently outfitted her East End manse with bulletproof glass and hidden cameras throughout.

“[MS-13 is] in Suffolk County,” she said. “What’s an hour car ride? They are near.”

She’s not alone in her concern. “The home-security business is very event- and news-driven,” said Gary Blum, president of Armored Entry, a company that installs bullet-proof, super-secure windows and doors. “We get business when there is a tremendous amount of fear being generated.”

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SOURCE: Chris Cameron
New York Post