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Retired Arizona Sheriff's Deputy Dubbed 'Wedding Crasher Bandit' Over Alleged Burglaries
Police suspect Landon Earl Rankin, a retired Pinal County Sheriff's deputy, pilfered thousands of dollars from nearly a dozen weddings in the state of Arizona. He currently faces burglary and drug possession charges in two such cases.
A retired Arizona deputy has been arrested and charged with stealing thousands of dollars worth of cash envelopes from newlyweds' card boxes at several weddings, police said.
Authorities have dubbed him the “wedding crasher bandit.”
Surveillance footage allegedly captured him making off with the purported envelope boxes from weddings on April 15 and April 30. In both cases, police say the uninvited wedding guest disguised himself by dressing up in formal attire to blend in with friends and family of the bride and groom.
Police say Rankin entered SoHo63 in Chandler on April 15 and crashed a private wedding that was attended by approximately 140 people, according to a complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. He allegedly later snuck off with the wedding’s gift card box. The venue ultimately reimbursed the couples’ family $1,000 for the theft.
“Video footage of the incident was reviewed and the defendant was observed on video grabbing the box, placing it into a bag, [walking] out of the rear exit, and then [running] to his vehicle and [driving] away,” a probable cause statement said.
Surveillance footage also allegedly linked Rankin to a number of other wedding gift box heists. The 54-year-old is also accused of absconding with cash from separate weddings in Mesa, Apache Junction and Gilbert in March and April.
Rankin, who was arrested in a parking lot on May 4, allegedly admitted under questioning to attending the weddings. Authorities say he also divulged to investigators that he spent the money from the thefts on fixing up his fishing boat.
“The defendant did admit that he attended the weddings to listen to the wedding vows because he was going through a divorce,” the case’s probable cause statement said. “When asked about the money from the thefts and if there was anything left, the defendant stated it was all gone because he was fixing his bass boat.”
Several wedding cards were found in Rankin’s vehicle, authorities stated, as well as checks from the Chandler wedding on April 29.
Police also allegedly found methamphetamine, a blue pill containing fentanyl wrapped in tinfoil and a straw with “burned residue” in a tobacco tin in Rankin’s possession. Rankin, who denied being a drug-user, claimed he was “holding” the narcotics for a friend, court filings allege.
Rankin was charged with two counts of third-degree felony burglary, according to the Chandler Police Department. He was also slapped with additional drug possession charges.
He was out on probation in Apache Junction related to a separate case at the time of his arrest.
Rankin had served at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for more than two decades. The 54-year-old retired from the office in 2015 after 21 years of service, a spokesperson for the agency said. He remained a reserve officer until 2017.
Rankin, who is expected to appear in court Wednesday, is being held without bond at a Maricopa County detention facility, police said. He also has court dates set for evidentiary and preliminary hearings on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
Sage Allen, Rankin’s public defender, didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment regarding the case’s allegations on Wednesday afternoon.
According to court documents, Rankin has worked as a barn manager at a Pinal County horse stable for the past six months. Calls placed to the business weren’t answered on Wednesday.
Anyone who may have come into contact with Rankin or may have any further information about his activities are urged to contact Chandler Police Department detectives at 480-782-4130.