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Pittsburgh Steelers Banners' Disappearances In D.C.'s Cleveland Park Prompt Libby Kavoulakis To Action

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WASHINGTON -- The last time a Pittsburgh Steelers banner disappeared from Libby Kavoulakis' District of Columbia house, someone called her house, asking to meet her at a local Whole Foods store, promising information about the banner's whereabouts.

On the appointed day in 2009 Kavoulakis turned up "with a tape recorder and camera." But no one showed up to speak with her about the banner.

"The police told me not to do that again," said Kavoulakis, who since 2006 has reported a total of four alleged thefts of Steelers banners from her Cleveland Park house, including an incident last week.

One banner went missing in 2006, as the Steelers headed into the Super Bowl (they won). In 2009, another year that the Steelers proved victorious at the Super Bowl, two banners disappeared from Kavoulakis' house -- one from her garage, the other from her home's second-story façade.

The Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that Kavoulakis filed a report of stolen property and property damage last week, though officials did not have an immediate comment about how they would proceed in investigating the report. The department also confirmed previous reports going back to 2009; the computer system doesn't, however, have 2006 information in it.

Even though she has lived for 20 years in the nation's capital, Kavoulakis has traveled to Pittsburgh with her sister to "all the home games" since 1979 -- as well as "some of the away games," she said.

After the no-show meeting at Whole Foods in 2009, Kaoulakis decided to install security cameras at her house. She then put up another banner with the slogan "You're In Steelers Country" over her garage. "Until this past week," the banner remained, she said. "I came home on the 31st from work and I noticed it was gone."

Because of her use of surveillance cameras, Kavoulakis now has two somewhat grainy videos with possible clues about what happened.

One video shows a man wearing shorts jumping out of a car that then drives off. The second video shows perhaps the same man, wearing a backward baseball cap, walking through bushes to the garage. Using his foot against the wall for leverage, the man tugs down the banner with a few heaves, and walks off with it, back to the bushes.

"It's not like it was by accident or some whim," Kavoulakis said. "You had to actually jump over a wall, walk across my yard and pull it off the garage."

Other banners and flags in Kavoulakis' neighborhood have remained seemingly without major mishap, said Kavoulakis, including Easter flags and flags printed with flowers -- even banners for D.C.'s beloved Redskins.

"If they were a football fan, I don't think they would steal the banner," Kavoulakis said. "They would understand that it would mean something to somebody. It reminds me of home. When I have a tough day, it gives me strength and happiness."

Kavoulakis plans to enhance images from the security videos that show the face of the man and the car's license plate. These images will be emblazoned on some new banners, which Kavoulakis expects to have ready by next weekend.

"I'm going to hang those banners on my garage," Kavoulakis said. "Somebody should be able to recognize the car. The men who did it. And we'll find them."

Kavoulakis is not worried that the new banners, featuring the images of the old banners being stolen, will be stolen, she said.

"I can always buy another banner," she said. "I just don't want people tromping across my property."

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