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San Diego’s “Bridal Bandit” – a woman who admitted to stealing wallets from brides, guests and workers during weddings – vowed to do seven years in prison Wednesday.
Denise Gunderson, 50, dubbed the “Bridal Bandit” by authorities, was sentenced to seven years behind bars for her crimes. Gunderson pleaded guilty in February to two counts of grand theft and two counts of identity theft stemming from her wedding crime sprees across San Diego County.
According to prosecutors, Gunderson made thousands of dollars in fraudulent credit card charges on cards she stole from guests at weddings in Pala Mesa, Coronado and Santee’s Carlton Oaks community.
Gunderson would pose as a wedding guest, crash ceremonies and receptions and rifle through the bags of guests, brides, members of the bridal parties and wedding workers.
Investigators said the Bridal Bandit used victims’ stolen cards to buy gift cards and other items at stores like Costco, Walmart and Target. Prosecutors said surveillance cameras caught her using the stolen credit cards – sometimes just minutes after unsuspecting brides walked down the aisle.
Her victims included newlywed Michelle Tietz, who told NBC 7 her credit cards were stolen on June 7, 2015, during her wedding at the Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbrook. Just as Tietz and her husband were preparing to go on their honeymoon, Tietz learned more than $1,000 in fraudulent purchases were charged to her card.
Another one of Gunderson’s victims was Yvette Lynch, a catering director at the Carlton Oaks Golf Course in Santee. Lynch left her purse in her office while she catered a wedding at the venue and her wallet was stolen from the handbag. Lynch shared surveillance video with NBC 7 that showed Gunderson walking around the golf course on the day of that theft, posing as a lost guest.
Gunderson, who also goes by the last name Burns, was also linked to a theft at a David’s Bridal store.
Gunderson was arrested in Las Vegas in December 2015 after she was accused of stealing a wallet at a church.
Investigators said Gunderson initially lied about her identity. Once they uncovered her real name, investigators realized she was wanted in Riverside and San Diego counties on several charges.
When Gunderson pleaded guilty, she also admitted to having three separate prior convictions. With that plea, she agreed to do seven years in local prison and that’s exactly the sentence a judge handed down Wednesday.