After the arrest this summer of an alleged serial rapist who posed as a rideshare driver in San Francisco, District Attorney George Gascon on Tuesday launched an awareness campaign to protect riders from phony drivers.
The campaign urges the thousands of riders who use apps like Uber and Lyft to match vehicle and driver to the information provided in the rideshare app before entering the car. The campaign also warns riders to share their location and destination with a friend or family member.
“Most of the time they’re safe,” Gascon said of the rideshare apps. “When things go wrong, they can go very wrong, very quickly.”
Gascon announced the campaign at a press conference alongside police Cmdr. Greg McEachern and a spokesperson for Uber.
Police arrested Orlando Vilchez Lazo, 37, in July for allegedly raping four women in San Francisco while posing as a rideshare driver. Police dubbed Lazo the “Rideshare Rapist.”
The Rideshare Rapist preyed on unsuspecting women who called for rides home after drinking at bars or nightclubs. He attacked women who fell asleep in the back of his car and took away their phones.
Lazo has pleaded not guilty to numerous counts including for rape by force. The case has not yet reached preliminary hearing.
“This is an issue that is 100 percent preventable,” Uber spokesperson Andrew Hasbun said. “People have all of the tools in their phone to make sure that they get into the right car.”
The campaign urges riders to:
-Verify the license plate number, color, make and model of the car to your rideshare app.
-Confirm your driver’s name before you provide your name. Make sure your driver matches the picture on your rideshare app
-Share your location and destination with a friend, family member, or someone you trust