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Thief steals about $5,000 from Florida newlyweds at their wedding reception

The nuptials bandit swiped the couple's marriage certificate, gift cards and cash.
/ Source: NBC News

A cold-hearted wedding thief swiped about $5,000 in gifts from a young couple just hours after they tied the knot in central Florida, officials said Wednesday.

The heist happened at The Pavilion at Mixon Farms in Bradenton on Saturday at about 11:30 p.m., following the marriage reception of Christopher Cox and Emma Baker, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.

"We're always hopeful that someone will know something and we'll get a tip," Sheriff's spokesman Randy Warren told NBC News on Wednesday.

The party, with more than 140 guests, had wrapped up and Baker's dad put a bag with the couple's marriage certificate, cards and cash gifts into the back of Cox's truck, the couple and venue director said.

"We're still here, we're still married and we love all of you," Cox, 30, said in a Facebook video posted by the venue on Monday. "Hopefully we can catch this person, who obviously is struggling, is hurting ... please be praying for this person."

The bride and groom, who met through a church group, said the heist wouldn't ruin their big night.

"We had the best night, it was absolutely amazing," Baker said. "Thank you for all your gifts."

The venue shared surveillance video of the theft, showing a woman circling the parking lot in a silver Ford Explorer and waiting for her chance to strike.

"They waited, and as soon as the father of the bride put that bag in Chris' truck, she walked up to the truck," Brandy Harlan, the venue’s director of marketing and lead coordinator, said in a Facebook video.

Harlan says the thief took the couple's marriage certificate, all of their cards and all of their gifts from guests.

"And then she ran through the bushes to her car that was waiting," Harlan added.

Harlan claimed venue security cameras captured the thief's license plate, but Warren said that footage was too grainy to pull numbers.

While Warren said he's optimistic someone in the community will come through with a case-breaking tip, he warned: "These things take a little time."

"Whoever you are and whatever it is you think you got away with it's short-lived because we have an amazing community ... we're going to find who this person is," Harlan said.

Harlan had angry, but also compassionate, words for the thief.

"We pray for you because for you and whoever else who planned this, obviously you need some prayer and some help," she said.