SAN DIEGO -- A woman wanted for allegedly stealing from brides during wedding ceremonies in the San Diego and Riverside areas in recent months was in custody Wednesday in Nevada, where she was arrested on suspicion of stealing a wallet at a church.
Denise Gunderson, who sometimes has gone by the name Denise Burns, was jailed Sunday in Las Vegas, according to San Diego County sheriff's Detective Lisa Jenkins.
Though the 50-year-old suspect allegedly lied about her identity, detectives soon discovered that she was wanted on various theft charges in Southern California, Jenkins said.
Between July and October, women getting married in San Diego and Riverside counties reported that their wallets had been stolen during their nuptials. Surveillance video captured images of Gunderson at several of the weddings, and also show her later using the victims' credit cards at stores, racking up thousands of dollars in illicit charges, Jenkins alleged.
The day after her wedding in Fallbrook in July, Michelle Tietz was headed to her honeymoon when she discovered her wallet missing.
“I knew instantly, instantly when I saw the charges that somebody had been in my bridal suite,” Tietz told 10News Wednesday.
That somebody, say investigators, was Gunderson, seen on surveillance inside a Target with Tietz's wallet in hand. Over the course of a single night she racked up $1,400 in charges.
After Tietz put Gunderson’s image on Facebook, she says no fewer than eight other brides contacted her to say the same thing happened to them.
“She specifically targeted brides, knowing that she was literally going to wreck their best day ever,” Tietz said.
Tietz called the arrest an early Christmas present.
“I screamed, I was so happy, I couldn't stop smiling. I still can't stop smiling from ear to ear.”
Gunderson is expected to face charges of burglary, grand theft and identity theft. She is being held at Clark County Detention Center pending extradition to San Diego County for prosecution.