As a Florida couple enjoyed their first dance as husband and wife Saturday night, a thief was circling the parking lot at the reception. The result: the bride and groom began their honeymoon at a police station, reporting thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards stolen.
Sunday morning, Chris and Emma Cox, of Clearwater noticed their marriage certificate, wedding cards and cash, checks and gift cards were stolen from the groom's truck, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
"Every single card was stolen from their wedding, and it happened in a matter of minutes," Brandy Harlan, director of marketing and lead coordinator at Bradenton's The Pavilion at Mixson Farms, where the wedding reception was held, said in a Facebook Live video Monday.
Surveillance cameras at the venue recorded footage of a woman in a suit entering the parking lot in a silver Ford Explorer SUV, Bay News 9 reported. At one point, cameras showed the woman exiting the vehicle to enter the Pavilion, the television station reported.
When the wedding reception ended around 11 p.m., Emma's Cox's father drove Chris Cox's truck to the loading area and placed a plain, gray cooler bag into the back seat of the vehicle, the Times reported.
When Emma Cox's father went inside the venue to retrieve more items, the woman walked to the truck.
"Literally within a minute of him leaving the truck, the lady came and took the bag and left," Emma Cox told the Times.
The woman walked back to her vehicle and drove away, Bay News 9 reported. Surveillance cameras did capture the license plate number of the woman's SUV, according to the television station.
"(The gifts were) 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," Emma Cox told WFTS. "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.
The couple planned to spend Sunday at the beach, but instead left their Airbnb and went to police to file a report.
"We wanted to enjoy our first day of marriage, but all we could think about was someone was trying to hurt us," Emma Cox told the Times. "It kind of put a cloud over our first day of marriage."
Harlan told the Times she believes the theft was an "inside job." A guest, or perhaps a vendor, must have tipped off the woman about the bag, she told the newspaper.
There were 166 guests at the reception, and while the newlyweds did not have a chance to count the money, they estimated there was between $3,000 and $5,000 in the bag, the Times reported.
Chris Cox agreed with Harlan, saying he believed someone tipped off the thief.
"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 told WFTS. "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."
The couple posted a vlog on Facebook, asking the thief to return the gifts.
Meanwhile, Emma Cox's sister-in-law launched a GoFundMe page to help the newlyweds.
Emma Cox said she and her husband were going to the county clerk for a replacement marriage license.
"We still are married, we want to make it official for the state of Florida," Emma Cox told the Times. "Life keeps going."
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