Two young men from Germany got a rude welcome to Utah Friday when a man who had given them a ride took off with all their belongings.
Jorg Fischer, 22, and Karsten Richter, 21, both of East Berlin, came to America for a vacation, planning to hitchhike and bicycle through a large chunk of the country. They flew from Germany to Houston and thumbed rides to San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas.The two men left Las Vegas Friday, planning to catch rides to Salt Lake City. After visiting Utah, their "dream" was to travel to Denver, purchase bicycles and ride to Mississippi, up the Mississippi River to Chicago and then fly home.
That was before they met the man in the black Ford van with Missouri license plates.
He picked them up somewhere between Las Vegas and Provo. As they pulled into Provo around noon the man stopped for lunch at JB's restaurant at University Mall in Orem.The man disappeared while the two visitors were in the mall. When they searched for the man out in the mall parking lot, they discovered the van was gone, according to Provo patrolman Clarence Phillips.
All their belongings were gone too, leaving them with $10 and the clothes on their backs.
Fischer and Richter lost sleeping bags, duffle bags filled with clothes and toiletries, a tent, their passports and $1,000 in cash.
The two young men said the rest of their travels in America had been trouble free.
The two men contacted Orem police, who arranged for them to stay in a Provo hotel Friday night, Phillips said. They will hitchhike to the immigration office in Salt Lake City today, where they will try to replace their travel passports.
So far, police have been unable to located the van or its driver.