CHANDLER, Ariz. — A former Pinal County Sheriff's Office deputy has been arrested by Chandler police on suspicion of crashing multiple weddings in the Valley and stealing items from the venue.
Landon Rankin, 54, was arrested this week after investigators allegedly connected him to several wedding thefts in Mesa, Gilbert, and Apache Junction.
Chandler police were notified last month of a possible theft at a local wedding venue where a box containing gifts for the bride and groom had been stolen.
Investigators reviewed security footage and observed Rankin allegedly stealing the card box and walking out of the venue, court records show. Chandler police later learned Rankin had allegedly crashed several other weddings throughout the East Valley.
On Wednesday, investigators arrested Rankin and he allegedly admitted to crashing some wedding ceremonies because he wanted to listen to the bride and groom exchange wedding vows.
Investigators allegedly found a couple of checks that had been stolen from one of the wedding venues in Rankin's possession, court records show.
Kacie Walhead was married two weeks ago and is believed to be one of Rankin's alleged victims. She said she feels fortunate she didn’t find out about the theft at her wedding until after the celebrations that night.
“The night was beautiful. But at the end of the night when I found out what happened, I was devastated,” Walhead said.
Walhead and her husband were building a new home and attendees of their wedding mostly gave them cash.
“It hit us in such a hard way because we were depending on that from family and friends who were excited for us for building a house,” Walhead said.
According to Rankin's LinkedIn page, he worked at PCSO for more than 20 years before retiring in 2015.
State records indicate Rankin surrendered his peace officer certification in 2018. Court records show Rankin was charged with drug crimes last November in Pinal County.
The former police officer is now facing several more criminal charges including burglary and drug possession.
Another couple allegedly victimized by Rankin is Katie and Austin Wilcox, who were married just last week and spoke to 12 News via Zoom from their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.
The couple said they hope there will be a victim compensation fund if Rankin is convicted. But what’s most devastating for them is losing the written messages left for them in the cards that were stolen.
“We’ll never be able to experience reading those. That’s something you can’t repay because those are gone forever,” the Wilcoxes said.
Chandler police are asking anyone who may have been allegedly victimized by Rankin to contact the agency at 480-782-4130.
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