SPRING HILL — Shards of glass were scattered all over the floor. Small holes were punched in walls throughout the home. Light fixtures dangled from the ceiling.
If there were something that could be broken, it was broken. Only days before it was set to be sold, the home at 13371 Linden Drive was a wreck.
"These kids really made a mess of it," said Carla Teitel, who lives only blocks away. "It's a tragedy."
About 20 former New York City police officers, a handful of Hernando deputies and a state trooper met at the home Thursday bringing brooms, dustpans and lawn shears for a hastily organized cleanup.
Frances Greifenberger was involved from moment she heard the sound of breaking glass at the vacant home while she washed her car across the street Tuesday afternoon.
Greifenberger, who worked for NYPD in the mid '80s, knew the home was empty and rushed over when she saw people moving around inside. With a handgun in her waistband, Greifenberger halted three teens until deputies arrived.
The teens, who are not being identified because they are juveniles, each face burglary charges and were released to their parents under home detention.
Using a metal baseball bat, a hammer and a screwdriver, the teens shattered windows and mirrors, smashed chandeliers, ripped tiles from the walls, broke a porcelain sink in the bathroom, and poked holes in the drywall throughout the home, among other damage, authorities said.
The teens told authorities they went inside the house the day before and "broke anything they saw." They came back on Wednesday to break more.
Authorities said the teens caused about $40,000 of damage to the home. The owners, Paul and Aimee Moon, recently moved out of the house to Kansas and were only days away from selling the home in a short sale.
"Those kids just needlessly trashed this place," said Chief Michael Maurer of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Hoping to help out her former neighbors, Greifenberger reached out to her friends in the NYCPD Veterans Foundation on Wednesday to help fix the home. "It only took a New York minute," Greifenberger said.
Many of the veterans wanted to help the Moons because the husband is a military officer who will be deployed to Iraq in a few months.
"Most of us here used to be in the military," said Richard Carroll, president of the foundation. "This is not something that family should have to worry about during a time like this."
Within hours, the former cops had cleared much of the debris.
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120.