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Equipment stolen from European team

Published Aug. 31, 2005

Investigators are taking a different look at a mysterious weekend break-in at Dunedin High School that left an NFL Europe football team without some of its equipment.

They're taking it to the Net.

"Detectives tell me they are going to be looking at eBay now," said Sgt. Greg Tita, spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, talking about the online auction site.

The equipment manager for the Scottish Claymores football team told authorities that, sometime after 8 p.m. Friday, someone broke off a lock to the locker room at the high school and stole equipment.

Missing are five silver helmets with blue face masks, 125 NFL T-shirts and four footballs with the NFL Europe logo.

The helmets are decorated with decals of silver and blue swords, the emblem of the Claymores.

"It sounds like it was someone who knew the stadium and know the property area there," Tita said. "So there's a pretty good chance it could be a high school student or a former high school student, but there are no leads at this point."

League officials said the helmets are valued at about $150 each; the footballs are worth about $60 apiece. The value of the T-shirts could not be determined because they were made specially for the team.

"It's an inconvenience," said David Tossell, director of public relations for NFL Europe. "It certainly hasn't affected the mood of the Claymores training camp and it certainly hasn't affected the great relationship we have with Dunedin High School."

Tossell said the team was able to replace the five missing helmets with ones borrowed from the Frankfurt Galaxy and Berlin Thunder teams, also training in the area. The rest of the missing items will be replaced from the league's supply of extra equipment.

The Claymores practice daily at Dunedin High School's stadium from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

The Barcelona Dragons, also of the NFL Europe league, is working out each day at the Clearwater High School stadium from 8:30 a.m until noon.

The news of the break-in was a disappointment to officials with the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which helped bring the six NFL Europe football teams to the area for their monthlong training camps.

"You don't want to have your city shown in a negative light," said John Giantonio, the bureau's director of sports. "These kinds of things can happen anywhere _ it's just one of those things you wish wouldn't happen."

"But we'll get through it," he said.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the stolen items to call (727) 573-8477.

_ Leon M. Tucker can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or