Sheriff's Deputies Warn of Hitchhiking Dangers

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Neighbors in Kanawha County say they're spotting more hitchhikers near the roads as fall weather settles in.

"I take one look at them and say, 'good luck, I'm not picking you up,'" said Steve Barker of South Charleston.

Sheriff's Deputies say it's risky business to let a stranger in your car.

"They may be wanted, they may be on the run or desperate for some reason and take advantage of your generosity," Cpl. Brian Humphreys said.

Deputies say not all hitchhikers may be harmful, but there are safer ways to help a stranded traveler than picking them up.

"Maybe give them a few dollars or give them directions," Humphreys said. "Call someone else for them...someone they know who could give them a ride instead."

Barker says hitchhiking was a common way to get around when he grew up in the 1960s. But now, he steers clear when he drives by someone searching for a ride.

"It gives you the shivers looking at some of these folks," Barker said. "They look like they're looking for their next victim."

Deputies say the danger in hitchhiking is a two-way street.

"It's dangerous to be hitchhiking and step in front of vehicles," Humphreys said. "To be walking with so much traffic around you trying to get a ride."

West Virginia State Code says you can't stand in roadways to solicit rides.

Deputies say if they see you hitchhiking, they'll stop to ask why you need help.

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