Woman takes search for stolen wedding dress into her own hands

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

A string of burglaries that caused headaches for several people in Chippewa Falls was solved by a young woman who took matters into her own hands after her wedding dress was stolen from a storage unit.

Alena Gadke ,her husband Codie, and 8-month old son Gavin paint the picture of a young and happy family.

But when Alena's wedding dress was stolen from the family's rented storage unit, Alena got mad.

“At first I was really upset when I saw that the dress was missing, and then I just got kind of mad, because I thought why would somebody do this,” she tells us.

Chippewa Falls Police tried to reassure the Gadke's that they would work their hardest to try and recover the thieves and the stolen items.

But Alena says she got impatient and decided to search for her stolen wedding dress on Craigslist.

“When I found the dress, like on Craigslist I was just thinking, this can't be possible, there's no way! They can't be dumb enough to put in on Craigslist,” Alena says.

But it was possible. Alena spoke with the Craigslist seller and figured it had to be her dress, that's when she contacted police.

Everything went down at the K-mart parking lot in Chippewa Falls, where police made two arrests, and recovered dozens of stolen items, including Alena's wedding dress.

Chippewa falls Police Chief Wendy Stelter says Alena's direct involvement with the investigation worked out terrifically this time for both police and the theft victims, but she says it doesn't always work out this well.

“Well we certainly don’t want to encourage people to take things into their hands, certainly we have the public helping us, giving us tips, so on and so forth, but this would be a bit unusual and it just so happened that it worked out really well,” Stelter says.

She provided us very useful information which allowed us to solve numerous burglaries in several jurisdictions, without her assistance who knows when or if they would have been resolved,” Sgt. Dan Marcell who helped make the arrests says.

Police arrested 17-year-old Coty R. Kimball and 23-year-old Christopher Anderson, both of Chippewa Falls for the thefts.

Alena’s wedding dress is currently being held as evidence at the Chippewa Falls Police Department.


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  • by citizen on Oct 20, 2010 at 07:19 AM
    Danielle, you are right, although, I dont question their competency. It seems without citizens help many cases go unsolved, or are put on the back burner because they are not important enough to investigate. Had a car stolen, the cops retrieved all the DNA and even know who the thief was, and still didnt arrest the person! I was told the name of the suspect, but, he doesnt have a pot to P in, so wouldnt receive a dime anyway to repay for it!
  • by Danielle Location: Eau Claire on Oct 15, 2010 at 10:50 AM
    I've been hearing a lot of stories where crimes have been either solved by the victims themselves or found to have an obvious solution long after the crime was committed. This is starting to make me wonder about the competency of our local law enforcement.
  • by CountyRes Location: Chippewa County on Oct 14, 2010 at 12:48 PM
    Congrats Alena. Only problem now is that it is in lockup as evidence. I had items that had been recovered and stored as evidence and didn't get any of it back for a year because the ones who stole my items had to get through the court system first. And after delay for this, delay for that, case almost dropped by the D.A.s office, etc., it took a year. Good luck on your case! Honestly, good luck.
  • by mary Location: eau claire on Oct 14, 2010 at 09:48 AM
    Give her an A for being a woman who takes initiative~!
  • by George Location: Eau Claire on Oct 14, 2010 at 06:34 AM
    Kudos to Alena for taking it upon herself to find the criminals that affected her. While some may get away with the crime, it's nice when their stupidity gets the best of them.
  • by crazy world Location: wisconsin on Oct 14, 2010 at 06:01 AM
    You are awesome! Smart and gutsy. Way to catch them!
  • by Lake Hallie on Oct 13, 2010 at 08:51 PM
    Keep your garage doors shut at all times too. Last week a teen was riding his bike around the neighborhood and was seen by our children leaving the garage. Nothing was taken that we are aware of.
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