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2:19 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Hitchhiker steals good Samaritan's car

Ricardo Munoz Ayala

Ricardo Munoz Ayala

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK — A man was arrested Friday, Jan. 27, after he was picked up while hitchhiking, only to steal the driver’s car and head south, said Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.

A 69-year-old Sedona man saw a cold hitchhiker looking for a ride at about 9:15 a.m. near Bell Rock, and offered to buy him breakfast. The man, who said his name was Rico, agreed, and they had their meal at a nearby café.

The driver then offered to stop by his bank to get Rico $20 for expenses, and when he did, he left the car running with Rico in the passenger seat.

When the victim came back out, Rico and the car were gone, D’Evelyn said. Inside the car were a computer and $500 worth of power tools, he added.

About 3 p.m. that same day, Department of Public Safety troopers spotted the car on the south side of Phoenix, heading south on Interstate 10 and pursued it, D’Evelyn said.

The driver, Ricardo Munoz Ayala, 31, of Phoenix, ran from police for 19 miles before they set out spike stripes, but even then, it continued for another 20 miles on flat left-side tires.

Ayala was booked into the Pima County jail on charges of unlawful flight from law enforcement, endangerment, unlawful use of a vehicle, suspended driver’s license, and criminal damage.