Although it's a surefire way to ruin a special day, crashing weddings and cashing out on the gifts seems to be a scheme that is working in the metro.
Jeremy and Cassandra Shannon traveled from New Jersey to hold their wedding at Majestic Oaks Golf Club on Saturday night. While enjoying the reception with about 150 family and friends from around the world, the mother of the bride discovered the gift box filled with cards, checks and cash for the couple was missing.
"It was a disaster. If you give me a million dollars, you cannot pay me enough the pain I went through," said Thespo Hams.
After planning her daughter's wedding for more than a year, the discovery brought Hams to tears for much of the rest of the night.
As for the bride, she is now back at her home in New Jersey, but Cassandra Shannon told FOX 9 News the mood of the evening changed after the box went missing at about 8:30 p.m.
"It was a big distraction for us. We didn't even get a chance to cut our wedding cake because we were distracted from the situation," she recalled. "My friend informed me. She was outside at the time on a phone call, and she had seen a man walk out with it in a suit -- and she didn't think anything of it."
Anoka County investigators are working to see if this case could be connected an incident in Brooklyn Park on July 6 where a couple crashed a wedding at the Edinburgh Golf Course. Surveillance video captured images of a man and woman wearing formal attire walking in. Two minutes later, the man is seen carrying the gift box through the kitchen.
"He appears to obtain the card box, he proceeds to walk around the venue looking for a back exit or side exit," Jesse Goembel told FOX 9 News. "He tries many locked doors, becomes confused and frustrated, walks back into reception area and walks out the front door with the box in his hand."
MAPLE GROVE COUPLE WARNS OF CRASHERS: http://bit.ly/12Ig3S7
After both wedding thefts, gift cards from the stolen boxes were quickly used at local Target stores. The Shannons were still dancing at their wedding while the thief was on a shopping spree at Target.
Hams said police told her the sales were registered at 9:58 p.m. and 9:59 p.m. on the purchase of a TV, DVDs and some groceries.
Sarah Trotter, a wedding planner with Lasting Impressions, told FOX 9 News her best advice for warding off gift theft is to empty the gift box one hour after guests arrive and lock cards away frequently.
"Just get them out of sight," Trotter recommended. "Whether that is giving them to mom and having her put them in her purse, locking them in an event managers office, getting all the gifts to the office site right away."
The Shannons didn't let it ruin their night. After all, for richer or for poorer is not what it's all about.
Investigators from the Anoka County Sheriff's Department and Brooklyn Park Police Department continue to review surveillance video from both venues and the Target stores involved.
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