Local Woman No Longer in Steelers Country, Receives Ransom Call for Stolen Banners
Cleveland Park isn't a neighborhood smacking of huge displays of sports fandom. But Libby Kavoulakis, 45, is a lifelong, season-ticket-holding Steelers fan. And besides, she says, "we're world champions." So she put up two banners, one on her garage and another, larger one across the second story of her house on Reno Road at Warren Street. The garage banner was stolen in February. On Saturday morning, as she was about to leave for her office, she noticed the 8-foot "You're in Steelers Country" banner was gone, too.
Last night, someone left her a creepy message about the thefts.
"I have information vital for you to know. I can't speak on the phone, though. It's not safe," the man said and implored her to meet him at a Whole Foods at 11:30 p.m. He ended the call repetitively: "If you want to know where your banners have gone, I have information that's vital to you."
Kavoulakis did not go. She didn't get the message until this morning, "and I wouldn't have gone anyway," she says.
She reported both thefts to the police, who told her that if she finds the banners or discovers who took them, she should call them and not deal with the thief directly. But she wants to know who had the gall to not only take her garage sign, but prop a ladder against her house in the middle of the night and cut down a banner tied there with industrial-strength rope. "It's not the banners I want, it's the person," she says. She's offering $1,000 for information and has advertised as much on her neighborhood Listserv and on a Web site for D.C. Steelers fans.
Last night's call was the first of its kind. Mostly, she says, she's had offers of support, to include "kicking the butt" of whomever dissed her deep-rooted loyalties. Kavoulakis, who moved to D.C. for work in 1992, used to go to the games with her parents, season-ticket holders since the early '70s. When her father died, she and her sister took on the mantle, attending the home games in a section with people who've been sitting with her family for 40 years. She's been to some away games, too, including those at FedExField. "I was among those making too much noise" with the other Terrible Towel-toting non-Redskins fans. When her team's farther down the road, she stays in D.C. and watches, like a lot of Steelers fans, at the Pour House in Cap Hill.
After she put up the banners—which she bought in the Strip District following the AFC Championship—none of her neighbors complained. "No one left a note under my door. People told me they thought it was fun."
Still, no one claimed to have seen anything, either. "The person had to go through a gate, over a stone wall. They trampled my flower bed...and no one saw anyone put up a 20-foot ladder?" she says.
Kavoulakis has suspicions about who would do such a thing. She hasn't ruled out an extreme Skins fan, but it's unlikely. "A lot of people I've talked to agree," she says, "it was probably a Ravens fan."