A burglar twice broke into a Glen Cove house he knew well -- his former home, one that his father sold last month to a Navy veteran returning from the Afghanistan War, police said Friday.
Michael Petikas, 31, of Floral Park, crept into the house through a den window that didn't lock properly, taking $800 and jewelry on July 29 and several computers and more jewelry on Aug. 1, police said. He was arraigned Friday on two counts of burglary and one of criminal possession. He was held on bail or bond of $35,000.
The new owner, back in his hometown in April after an eight-month stint working in a naval construction battalion, had closed on the sale last month and had no clue about the window glitch.
"You know I came home and I thought I was safe and I wasn't," said a teary Stephen Moore, 56, who now works for the Port Authority. He said he was so anxious after the second burglary that he "actually slept on the stairs with a baseball bat."
Moore changed all the locks in his home, but was burglarized again.
Det. Brian Glennon of the Glen Cove police learned from neighbors that Petikas has been asking for money. He had spent most, if not all his life, in the house on Harwood Drive, police said.
Before his mother, Theresa Ann Petikas, died of breast cancer in 2002, she was admired as the founder of the nonprofit Glen Cove CARES, which helps cancer victims.
Petikas' name also popped up several times when detectives and the Nassau County Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Unit looked at pawn and jewelry shop sales records.
After hearing that Petikas was leaving for North Carolina, police set up a sting Thursday and arrested him when he sold jewelry that belonged to Moore's wife.
Glennon said Petikas stole to support his heroin habit: "This is a snapshot of what's happening on Long Island with the heroin problem. This is a person who several years ago would have never done this."
Moore said he had a rapport with Petikas, whose brother and grandfather had been in the Navy. Petikas also had helped him move boxes and shown him how to work the pool, Moore said.
"I talked to him and I felt at ease with him," he said. "I really feel bad for him, because he's got problems and I hope he gets the help that he needs. I'm not going to hold any animosity."