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Grand theft auto: Stolen and recovered

Spring 2011 your$ magazineAt 4 a.m. on September 17, 2010, the phone rang at the home of Mark and Cheryl Campbell. “Getting a call at 4 a.m. is never good,” says Mark. It was their son Damon, who was in Dayton, Ohio, doing a surgical residency.

Damon called because his car was gone. He had parked it under the streetlight in front of his apartment the night before, but the broken glass on the pavement was the only evidence that it had ever been there. “Damon was a little panicked. The car had obviously been stolen and he didn’t know what to do.”

Mark advised Damon to call the police. The dispatched officer indicated that the car had already been found—abandoned after being “absolutely totaled and destroyed” as a result of multiple hit and runs—and towed to a salvage yard.

After contacting the police, Damon was determined to get to his rotation, so he got on his bicycle. “He goes to different hospitals each month. This particular rotation was at the air force base hospital. He rode on the shoulder of a six lane highway to get there,” Cheryl shares, the parental worry still heavy in her voice.

Because the surgical residency is very intense (80–120 hours a week), Damon had little free time to deal with the car situation, so Cheryl became the middleman.

The claims process

Campbell's stolen car“I called Member Benefits right away,” says Cheryl. “It was a very stressful situation. We’d never been through anything like this before, and with our son 10 hours away, we could only help him by phone.” Cheryl talked with the claims team from Member Benefits over the next several days and relayed the information to Damon. “They just took my hand and walked us through it step by step.”

Cheryl and Mark were amazed at how everything came together. “The process was so smooth and quick. From getting the police report, to working with the salvage yard and the adjuster, and getting a check.”

The Campbell’s had a check in hand within 8 days and were able to find a replacement car and get it to Damon by October 10. “We bought a ‘98 Mitsubishi, a smaller car, but we also had a ‘98 Crown Vic we inherited from Mark’s parents.” They opted to send the bigger vehicle to Damon. “Dayton is a big city. We thought he’d be safer in a larger vehicle.”

Taking precautions

Hoping to avoid a repeat, the Campbells took some anti-theft precautions. “We bought a club for the steering wheel and a heavy chain that goes from the brake pedal to the steering wheel with a lock. Hopefully it will make someone think twice about stealing it, or at least it will slow them down.”

The Campbells are glad to have this ordeal behind them. “We were so thankful to have all the help from the claims team. They were so knowledgeable and calming. It was a bad, bad situation that turned out well. I can’t thank them enough.”


Cheryl, Damon and Mark CampbellMark and Cheryl Campbell live in Elroy. Mark retired after 32 years as a tech ed teacher (3 years in the Jefferson School District and 29 years with the Royal School District in
Elroy). They have had their auto insurance with Member Benefits since the 1980s. “All three of our children were on our insurance at one time or another, and not a single accident. We were very fortunate.”

After retiring from teaching, Mark decided to go back to school to be a nurse. He will graduate in May from Western Technical College in La Crosse. “Our daughter is in the same nursing program. We’re the first father-daughter team they’ve had.”