Ex-deputy accused of posing as wedding guest to steal gifts
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- A retired sheriff's deputy posed as a guest at two Phoenix-area weddings to steal boxes of cards containing thousands of dollars, and is under investigation in a series of similar crimes, authorities said Friday.
Landon Earl Rankin, 54, was arrested Wednesday in the thefts at private venues in April and was being held without bond, according to Chandler police and court and jail records.
According to police, the two stolen boxes of wedding cards each contained between $3,000 and $6,000.
Rankin was a deputy with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, joining the agency in 1994. He retired in 2015 but remained a reserve officer until 2017, office spokesperson Lauren Reimer said.
Rankin was jailed on suspicion of two counts of burglary. He also was booked on several drug possession and drug paraphernalia offenses because he had amphetamine and fentanyl on him when he was arrested, police said.
Court records didn't list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Surveillance video from one of the Chandler wedding venues showed Rankin grabbing the gift box, placing it in a bag, walking out the venue's rear door, running to his vehicle and driving away, police said in a probable-cause statement.
When interviewed by police, Rankin said he attended the weddings to hear the wedding vows 'because he was going through a divorce," the statement said.
During their investigation of the two Chandler thefts, police learned of at least seven similar crimes in other Phoenix-area jurisdictions, said Sgt. Jason McClimans, a Chandler police spokesman.
Rankin is now under investigation in those cases, and Chandler police have heard from 'four or five" additional newlywed couples regarding possible additional thefts, McClimans said.
Police urged victims of such crimes to contact appropriate law enforcement agencies.