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Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jersey sparks investigation

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during the second quarter of Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
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Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during the second quarter of Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

The hunt for Tom Brady's missing No. 12 Super Bowl LI jersey officially became a law enforcement matter on Monday.

Houston police said on Twitter that its major offender division is working with NFL Security along with other state and local agencies "to investigate theft" of the jersey, which hasn't been seen since Brady removed it minutes after he led the Patriots to Sunday's historic overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

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"We have been looking into this disappointing matter and will continue to assist law enforcement authorities," NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in an email to USA TODAY Sports.

The confirmation from Houston and the NFL that an investigation was underway came hours after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked Texas Rangers — the men and women with badges, not the baseball team — to investigate, and Brady confirmed to reporters earlier Monday that the jersey hadn't been located.

The list of potential suspects in the search for Brady's jersey is lengthy: teammates, coaches, family members, team/league staffers, news media members, law enforcement officials and even gate crashers.

There were more than a hundred people crowded into the New England Patriots' locker room after their overtime victory at Super Bowl LI on Sunday night. Brady said he put the jersey into one of his bags, but he realized minutes later that it wasn't there.

"Those are pretty special ones to keep, but what can you do?" Brady told reporters on Monday.

Patrick said in a statement that he had asked the Texas Rangers to assist Houston police — the lead law enforcement agency for Super Bowl LI — in the search for the jersey.

"In Texas we place a very high value on hospitality and football," Patrick said. "Tom Brady's jersey has great historical value and is already being called 'the most valuable NFL collectable ever.'

"I've called Colonel Steve McCraw to ask that the Texas Rangers work with the Houston Police Department on this case. Whoever took this jersey should turn it in. The Texas Rangers are on the trail."

Locker rooms are among the most secure areas of any Super Bowl, a game that already has layers of security for fans to go through to even make it through the front gates.

There have been those who have been able to sneak through.

A 9/11 "truther" from Brooklyn managed to get into the Super Bowl XLVIII postgame news conference where he interrupted Seattle Seahawks MVP Malcolm Smith's interview three years ago. Matthew Mills, who was arrested for trespassing, fashioned an old pass from a festival to fool security officials.

"I didn't think that I'd get that far," Mills told NJ.com. "I just kept getting closer and closer. Once I got past the final gate and into the stadium, I was dumbfounded."

Then there's the infamous story — well before the NFL stepped up its security efforts after 9/11 — where notorious gate crasher Dion Rich helped carry Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry off the field at the Superdome after Super Bowl XII.