Police on Thursday arrested a San Mateo man who allegedly posed as a rideshare driver near downtown San Francisco nightclubs in order to sexually assault women.
Officers arrested Orlando Vilchez Lazo, 37, at a home in San Mateo County on suspicion of false imprisonment, kidnapping and assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object and rape, according to San Francisco police.
Investigators were able to connect Vilchez Lazo to the sexual assaults, which occurred between 2013 and 2018, through forensic evidence, police said.
The first assault occurred in 2013 when a woman leaving a bar allegedly got into Vilchez Lazo’s vehicle, mistaking him for her rideshare driver.
Instead of going to the woman’s house, however, Vilchez Lazo allegedly took her to another location. The woman immediately reported the sexual assault and police were able to obtain forensic evidence. The evidence was put into CODICE, a criminal database, but no matches came up at the time and the case went cold.
However, earlier this year, in February, a similar sexual assault occurred and from that, investigators again obtained forensic evidence.
Once entered into the CODICE system, the evidence matched-up with the evidence from the 2013 sexual assault. Then in May, a third sexual assault occurred in a similar manner. The forensic evidence from the third assault matched the evidence from the two previous assaults.
Officers then assembled a task force in order to identify and apprehend the suspect. Shortly after, in June, a fourth sexual assault occurred involving a man posing as rideshare driver. The forensic evidence from that incident matched the evidence from the three other previous assaults.
Soon after, the task force followed numerous leads to track the suspect down.
On July 7, undercover officers in the city’s South of Market neighborhood observed suspicious behavior from a driver operating what appeared to be a rideshare vehicle. Officers stopped the vehicle and identified the driver as Vilchez Lazo and took a DNA sample for analysis and comparison.
On Tuesday, Vilchez Lazo’s DNA was allegedly found to be a match with the forensic evidence from the four sexual assaults. Vilchez Lazo is currently in custody and his bail has been set at more than $4 million.
On Friday, police Cmdr. Greg McEachern alleged Vilchez Lazo is a “sexual deviant predator who was not going to stop until he was caught.”
McEachern said that investigators are still looking into whether more women may have been victimized by Vilchez Lazo.
“The actions of someone like this, who has committed four rapes in five years; there’s a long time between 2013 and 2018. It’s very hard to believe that he wasn’t committing sexual assaults somewhere else and if more victims come forward, we might be able to tie those cases,” he said.
“It’s hard to say what’s on the mind of an individual like this. The fact that he’s committed these four rapes over five years led us to believe he was a very dangerous person and he wasn’t going to stop until we caught him,” McEachern said.
Investigators are also trying to determine whether Vilchez Lazo had ever worked for a rideshare company.
Anyone who may have been victimized by Vilchez Lazo or who may have witnessed one of the sexual assaults is asked to contact the Police Department’s special victims unit at (415) 553-1521 or the 24-hour tipline at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.