Panic rooms are growing more common in New York’s Hamptons, as luxury homeowners rush to add these bulletproof fortresses into their homes. Residents in the area fear infiltration from the Salvadoran gang MS-13 after the chilling murder in April of four young men behind a soccer field in Central Islip and other recent incidents in the area. Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skynecki publicly confirmed these fears last year; the news has prompted some homeowners to make changes to their properties.
According to those in the security industry, such incidents commonly affect the way people think about their homes. “The home-security business is very event- and news-driven,” Gary Blum, president of Armored Entry, a company that installs panic rooms, told the New York Post. “We get business when there is a tremendous amount of fear being generated.”
But outfitting a home with extra security can come at a high price. For example, Blum says bullet-proof, secure windows start at $6,000 each. They may offer peace of mind to your clients, though; he says you can beat such windows “with a sledgehammer without making a dent.”
There’s also the factor of keeping up with what one’s neighbor’s have, according to Chris Cosban, a Long Island contractor with Covert Interiors, which installs panic rooms. “The big thing in the Hamptons is that if somebody has it, they [all] want it,” Cosban told the New York Post.
Covert Interiors charges between $25,000 to $200,000 for a panic room. Many of the panic rooms are designed with other functions, such as a home theater, wine cellar, or even gun vaults. “There is a wow factor,” Cosban says. “They like to brag about it.”
But some residents believe homeowners may be taking their fears to the extreme. “Billionaires [like] security and there are a lot of billionaires in the Hamptons,” says one wealthy East Hampton resident, who asked to remain anonymous when talking to the New York Post. “I think they get more paranoid the richer they become.”