Killers have long taken the joy out of hitchhiking. But even getting a ride from someone we know can be a potentially lethal idea.

Be wary of the cars you get into/Ryn Gargulinski file photo

Be wary of the cars you get into/Ryn Gargulinski file photo

One woman found that out when she accepted a ride home April 24 from an acquaintance named Arthur Bedoya.

Bedoya, 62, just so happens to be a high-risk level-three sex offender who lives in home surrounded by a fence and guarded by five “vicious” dogs, according to a news release from the Tucson Police Department.

We can guess where the story is going from here.

Rather than taking the woman directly to her own house, Bedoya drove to his own residence, the news release said.

Arthur Bedoya/TPD photo

Arthur Bedoya/TPD photo

Sure enough, Bedoya is listed on the Arizona Department of Public Safety sex offender registry. Although his address information says 16th Avenue and Ajo Way, it also notes that he’s homeless.

Regardless of where he lives, the woman tried to leave the property where Bedoya took her – but he evidently had other plans. He tried to sexually assault her then began to “brutally attack” her. She got away and ran outside, only to have the dogs continue the attack.

She was able to get the attention of someone passing by who helped her escape.

Police arrested Bedoya May 18. He was booked into Pima County jail on one count of kidnapping and one count of attempted sexual assault.

The woman’s multiple lacerations and contusions, a result of the attacks by both Bedoya and his dogs, were treated at University Medical Center.

My favorite taxi hailer photo/Ryn Gargulinski file photo

My favorite taxi hailer photo/Ryn Gargulinski file photo

Free rides are potentially deadly rides, for sure. Even giving one can put us in danger.

Some argue this view it too harsh and getting or giving a free ride can be relatively safe.

While no United States statistics are readily available for those who were assaulted or killed during a free ride – how would these stats be counted? – the site puts forth an argument for hitchhiking in Germany.

The site notes that more than 827,000 people died in Germany in 2007, with about 30,000 of those deaths due to non-natural causes.

Of the non-natural deaths, only 451, or a scant 0.06 percent were from assaults. Since not every assault happens in a vehicle with strangers, deaths to hitchhikers or by hitchhikers is even lower than the scant 0.06 percent.

“Therefore you don’t lower the risk of dying a non-natural death in a crucial way if you omit to hitchhike or stop giving a lift to hitchhiker,” the site says.

By all means, then, hop in that stranger’s car – and make sure we pick up a stranger next time we’re driving around. For added excitement, make sure the stranger is wielding an axe.

That’s the same type of argument that says we are more likely to die from cancer than being attacked by a shark. So go ahead, swim in those deep ocean waters, especially if we happen to be bleeding for some reason.

Chum anyone?

Cabs are safer than riding with strangers/Ryn Gargulinski file photo

Cabs are safer than riding with strangers/Ryn Gargulinski file photo

“There is no ‘safe’ place to hitchhike anywhere in the world,” Tom Mercer of Let’s Go Publications is quoted in an article. This same story also argues that hitchhiking died in America mainly because of highway laws banning pedestrians on the side of the road. As a true crime buff, I’m still blaming the killers.

Even though he says hitchhiking is not “safe,” Mercer adds, “Travelers still find success hitching their way from town to town in certain countries and regions of the globe.”

Getting or giving rides from or to strangers may still be a popular mode of transportation in parts of Europe, but in America it’s pretty much thumbs down.

Cars can too easily become a little mobile crime scene. In fact, one of the first rules of warding off an abduction is to never let the abductor get us in the car. And if he ends up in our car, we’re supposed to smash the car into a utility pole to get attention or get away.

Kids are especially at risk. Drivers lure them with candy, Sponge Bob stickers or the tale of a family tragedy. “Your mom just got in an accident and I’m supposed to drive you to the hospital.”

The only part of the hospital a free ride may entail is a trip to the morgue.



What do you think?

Have you ever hitchhiked or picked up a hitchhiker?

What happened?

Do you give or take free rides from acquaintances?

What do you do when you’re walking around and a car pulls over to get near you?