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.' Because no one else knew where the cards with all the money and valuable items were," Emma Cox said.
Cox 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.
"She knew exactly where to go. (She) 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," Cox said.
Cox 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 a roundabout, that Cox'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."
Brandy Harlan, the Wedding Coordinator and Marketing Director of The Pavilion at Mixon Farms, said she also believes the theft was an inside job. The venue is currently looking through all 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's Facebook page to urge followers to share the surveillance video in the hopes of identifying the woman who 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.
"My heart is still happy, she can't take that away," his wife said.
Along with the cash, the couples' wedding certificate was also stolen. 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.
This story was originally published by Michael Paluska on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.