Local Current Blog

David Campbell shares his experience of guitar theft and recovery

Yesterday morning, our own David Campbell woke up to some bad news. The Radio Free Current and Local Show host – who also performs around town in groups like E.L.nO. – had left his gear with a friend overnight. The van where his guitar, amp, and pedals were being stored had been broken into. And all of his gear was gone.

Throughout the day yesterday, messages about Campbell’s loss spread through social media like wildfire. His Facebook post about his missing guitar – a rare silver sparkle Les Paul, one of his most prized possessions – and other gear was shared hundreds of times. Musicians, shop owners, and listeners throughout the Twin Cities reached out to help. And incredibly, less than 24 hours after it was stolen, Campbell’s guitar and pedals were returned.

One of the music store owners that Campbell talked to during this ordeal told him that music gear theft is running more rampant in the Twin Cities right now than he’s witnessed in the past 20 years. In light of what seems to be a local epidemic – just last month, both Willie’s Guitars and Guitar Rodeo were hit with massive burglaries, while similar reports of personal theft are not uncommon on social media channels – Campbell wanted to share his personal experience and thank the listeners and citizens who helped bring a swift resolution to his dilemma.

As you’ll see, it’s quite the unbelievable tale.

“7:30 a.m. yesterday, I get the call. I was just numb. This is 10 years of gear acquistion gone, in just a second. I sat down, I posted it on Facebook, just to get the quick word out, and people just started reposting that. Then I went and I found all my pictures of everything, I found as many serial numbers from my tax records as possible, at least big stuff I had the serial numbers for, and then I started forwarding that to every person at any sort of used or even regular music stores. And people were extremely helpful. By the point in the afternoon when businesses were starting to shut down for the day, like 5 or 6, I’d call Music Go Round in Woodbury and they’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve already got it. Are you David Campbell? Yeah, we got it.’ It had spread so quickly that people at all these stores already knew about it. They were like, ‘we’re aware of it, but you’ve gotta hit the pawn shops.’ So I was creating a database in Excel of all the pawn shops, and then today what I was going to do was start getting a hold of those people. 

“I was just finishing that up at probably 7:30, 8 p.m. I’m hanging out and trying not to cry again, and this Facebook message pops up. It’s this guy, he says, ‘I think I found your guitar. Call me and I’ll explain.’ So I call this guy up, and he says he was a teacher for a few years. One of his students knew that he played music, and had sent him a text with a picture of my guitar and was like, ‘Hey, do you want to buy this for $40?’ 

“He sends me the picture, and it’s almost identical to the picture we were spreading around on Facebook. It was clearly the same thing. One of his friends had reposted my original message, he had seen that, and then got the text, looked at the text, looked at the Facebook message, and was like ‘This is the same thing.’ And then reached out to me. 

“So I’m like, who is this person? Give me their phone number. And he was not exactly certain how to handle it, because it would implicate one of his former students if we were to go to the police. So he’s like, ‘Let me see if I can just buy it from them.’ So I call the cops and I’m like, what can you guys do? 9-1-1 says to call the Minneapolis precinct. I call the Minneapolis precinct and they say to call Property Crimes in the third precinct. And I’m like, ‘I called those people at noon today and they never called me back!’ What do I do? I’m freaking out, because this person clearly has the stuff. It’s so close to me, but I can’t get my hands on it, I don’t know what to do, and it’s totally up to this guy who I’ve never spoken to. So [the guy who sent the Facebook message] is just like, ‘I’m going to go get this sh*t from [the student].’ I’m like, ‘Alright, I guess I’ve just got to be ok with that.’ He’s like, ‘Meet me over by my place.’ I get in the car – I’m not even wearing shoes at this point, it’s like 11 o’clock at night, I hustled out there – and we’re sitting there, I don’t hear from him, I’m texting him, he’s not responding, and then all of a sudden he calls me. He’s like, ‘I got it. I got the pedal case and I got the guitar. I paid $52 for it.’

“So he pulls up and he opens his trunk and we look at it, it’s my stuff, and I was just like, ‘I have $100. Here. Take it.’ And he’s like, ‘Thanks.’ And he gave me the [student’s] number and told [them] I was going to call. So I call [them] up, and [they] just sounded really distraught – [they] had stolen goods, and [they] knew it. And [they’re] like, ‘We’re done with this.’ I say, ‘I don’t want any trouble, I just want my stuff back. Can you help point me in the direction of my amp?’ And they’re like, ‘We don’t know.’ But then today, they sent that person’s name. So I’m going to turn that over to the cops and see what happens.

“This all happened between 8:30 and 11 p.m. last night. My friend parked the van at like midnight on Sunday night, and by 11 p.m. the next day I had my sh*t back. And it had already gone from the thief, at least to one other person for sure, then to this teacher, and then to me. And probably someone else along the way.

“So these are the lessons I learned: 

“One, once again, never leave your sh*t unattended. No matter where you are, for no amount of time. The back of a car, even if it’s locked, or covered, or whatever. It’s vulnerable unless it’s in your presence or behind a locked door. 

“The second thing is, make sure that you’re prepared when something disappears. And the steps are: alert the police, and then give out the information to all the places that would buy that stuff. Watch Craigslist. Watch eBay. People will put it up right away. 

“And third, from a personal place, I was just – I was really numb from the shock of it. But I was just overwhelmed at certain points in the day, as I would see 300 people shared this, 500 people shared this. And some of them were my friends, and some of them were people in bands from the Local Show, and some of them were listeners from the station who don’t know anything about any of that stuff. And because of that it showed up on this teacher’s page. During the day, there were multiple points where I was seriously welling up, because these people who may know me a little bit or don’t know me at all are taking a couple seconds to say something nice and pass this on. People volunteered to hang signs in Uptown. People just came out of the woodwork to help me. They just kept sharing it and helping, and in the end it worked.”

David Campbell is still missing a 1978 Fender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb amp in a road-case with casters. Serial Number: A29216. Anyone with information about the missing amp or this theft in general should contact the Property Crimes Dept. for the Minneapolis 3rd precinct at (612) 673-5713 and reference Police Case Number 12-169524.