Alena Gadke got the disturbing news that her storage locker had been broken into. She discovered it had been completely ransacked! And then her heart sank.
Married just two years ago, the memory of wearing her precious wedding dress was still vivid.
"Tears started running down my cheeks. I didn't think I'd ever see the dress again," she said.
That's when the 25-year-old Wisconsin mom became a real-life Nancy Drew.
"All I could think was, 'I'm going to catch the little punks that did this'," she said.
A gut feeling led her to search Craigslist, hoping that whoever stole her wedding dress might try to sell it. She poured through countless postings then spotted one that read, "David's Bridal wedding dress." Gadke's dress was from David's Bridal.
She started negotiating with the seller and got this description from a woman calling herself Ashley: it's plain white and has a black sash and white veil.
Then came this text from the seller: Are you willing to pay full price?
"She was trying to sell my dress back to me for $350," Gadke said.
Gadke set up a sting, and says she arranged to meet the thief at a shopping mall parking lot.
"I didn't know if they had guns," she explained.
She gave the Chippewa Falls Police Department the location so she had backup.
"We tried to convince her that she should not take this into her own hands," said Chief Wendy Stelter. "But she was going to go, meet these people, and get her dress back."
Just as Gadke pulled in, the cops made their move.
The case of the stolen wedding dress was solved! Police arrested 23-year-old Christopher Anderson and two minors.
Gadke says from now on, she'll keep a close eye on her wedding dress.
"I'm going to keep that dress right next to my bed," she said.