BRADENTON, Fla. — While Chris and Emma Cox danced the night away with friends and family after their nuptials, a thief was lurking in the parking lot, plotting to steal from them.
Surveillance video from The Pavilion at Mixon Farms shows a silver, early 2000s, Ford Explorer pull into the parking lot around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The driver lingers in the parking lot for nearly two hours. Then, she makes her move.
“We believe that someone texted her or called her or just let her know that 'hey this is the bag that you need to look for,' cause no one else knew where the cards with all the money and valuable items were,” Emma Cox said.
Emma said her dad was loading the gifts into her husband Chris’ truck right outside the venue when the woman casually walked up and stole the gift bag.
“It was in a gray cooler bag, so it’s not a suspicious bag, like it’s a cooler bag you would put food in but she knew exactly where to go. Didn’t look for anything else in the car, didn’t go through anyone else’s car doors, just went exactly where it was in that car and that door," Emma said.
Emma said only a handful of people even knew where the cards were. She said her father wasn’t one of them. The truck was so close to the venue, parked in the roundabout, that Emma’s dad didn't lock the doors and was on his way back with more gifts when the thief struck.
“From the looks of the video, if you’ve watched it, anybody on the street would probably say that was an inside job,” Chris Cox said. “This looked intentional and planned, and the timing was perfect. This person is probably broken and hurting for something, and I would’ve loved to have been able to help that person if they would’ve asked for it.”
Late Monday night, Brandy Harlan, the Wedding Coordinator and Marketing Director for the venue, let ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska onto the site to walk him through how the crime was committed.
Harlan said she also believes it was an inside job. They are now looking through all of their surveillance videos to try and connect a wedding crasher they might have missed, or one of their outside vendors to the woman who showed up and stole the bag.
Harlan even went to the company Facebook page for The Pavilion at Mixon Farms to urge everyone to share the surveillance video in the hopes of identifying the woman who crashed the party and stole the bride and groom's gifts.
The low estimate for the amount of money taken is between $3,000 and $4,000.
The newlyweds are just grateful they spent quality time with family, that they're now married and enjoyed a beautiful night.
“It’s definitely the best wedding I’ve ever been to,” Chris Cox said with a smile.
“My heart is still happy, she can’t take that away,” his wife said.
The couple is still working to find out their next step. Their marriage certificate was stolen as well. They are making plans to go to the county courthouse to finalize their marriage.
“We are definitely praying that she does the right thing either turns it over even if it’s dropping it off at the venue, or you know we are just praying for her heart and that she does the right thing,” Emma Cox said.