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Police: San Francisco Serial Rapist Suspect Posed As Rideshare Driver

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A suspected serial rapist who police say pretended to be a driver for ride-hailing services in order to lure victims outside San Francisco bars into his car has been arrested.

Police identified the suspect as 37-year-old Orlando Vilchez Lazo, who was arrested Thursday at his home in San Mateo County.

The arrest came after a task force was formed in June to investigate a person who police called the "Rideshare Rapist." The task force included special victims unit investigators, as well as personnel from the police crime lab, district attorney's office and the FBI, police said.

"The duties of the task force officers were to author numerous search warrants, follow all investigative leads that we had up to that point, conduct undercover and uniformed surveillance, and to follow every lead that we could to every location that we could imagine," said San Francisco Police Cmdr. Greg McEachern.

Prior to the task force formation, police had identified two sexual assaults, one in 2013 and the second in February 2018,  that appeared to be committed by the same suspect based on DNA evidence and the same modus operandi - both victims had been waiting for a rideshare outside local bars, were taken to another location and raped.

In June, investigators connected a third sexual assault from May to the other two using DNA evidence, and the task force was then put together to find the serial rapist. In July, forensic evidence connected the Rideshare Rapist to a fourth sexual assault that happened in June, police said.

During a surveillance operation by the task force the weekend of July 7th, investigators observed suspicious behavior from what appeared to be a rideshare vehicle, police said. The driver was stopped and identified as Vilchez Lazo, with officers obtaining a DNA sample. On Tuesday, the police crime lab confirmed the DNA matched the forensic evidence in the other rape cases, police said.

On Thursday, Vilchez Lazo was taken into custody. He was charged with multiple offenses including rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object, kidnapping and false imprisonment. Police said rideshare companies are cooperating with investigators to determine whether Vilchez Lazo was ever a documented driver.

It's believed there are other survivors who were sexually assaulted by Vilchez Lazo and police urged any other survivors or witnesses to come forward. They can contact the department's Special Victims Unit at 415-553-1521, anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444, or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with "SFPD"

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