PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. — Tuesday, Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser walked though his Plaquemines Parish home, sad and disgusted.
Last week, burglars ransacked the place, stole what they could, then started a fire in his kitchen.
A pest control worker saw the back door kicked in, looked inside a window, and saw flames.
“Evidently, they did it to deter him from chasing them down the levee or they escaped out the back either by four wheels or down the levee,” Nungesser said. “So, when he got here the fire was blazing, everything on the counter was burned and he called the fire department.”
When firefighters arrived, they noticed the house in disarray and called the sheriff’s office.
“It’s obvious they spent a lot of time in here.” Nungesser said. “They went through everything in the apartment above the garage, all of the boxes were dumped out. They took the silver out of the boxes with the china.”
The fire mostly damaged the kitchen, but the house is covered in soot.
The burglars stole valuables including political memorabilia, rare gold coins – and framed jerseys signed by Drew Brees and Pete Rose.
“There was a first aid kit with the hose running on the driveway where they must have cut themselves as they were breaking things out of the frames," Nungesser said.
Nungesser’s home sits on 65 acres along the Mississippi River in Pointe Celeste which is south of Jesuit Bend.
It was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ida in August.
He and his wife now live in Covington.
They already moved out most of the furniture and were in the process of taking the rest of their items to the new house.
“My wife is sick to death,” Nungesser said. “She doesn’t even want to come back down here. She hasn’t slept since this happened.”
A deal to sell the house fell through recently when the buyer couldn’t come up with the deposit.
“Knowing that we had this sale and signed the papers, we dropped the insurance, so the insurance won’t cover any of this,” Nungesser said.
Nungesser is still adding up the damage and what it will cost to replace what was stolen. But he says what the burglars took in terms of personal items, pictures and family memorabilia is priceless.
"To break things, when you’re going through these treasures and just ripping things apart, knowing that they’re destroying things and then setting the fire just shows how little respect they have for anything," he said.
Nungesser thinks someone who’s been to his house and knew what was in there may have committed the burglary and started the fire.
He plans to repair the damage, repaint the inside, then put the home back on the market.