The Alameda County district attorney’s office has charged a 30-year-old San Francisco woman with felony identity theft after police say she stole the wallet of a passenger who fell asleep during an Uber ride to Berkeley, then used her credit cards at stores around the Bay Area.
According to the Berkeley Police Department, Ligia Latino was using the Uber application when she picked up a solo female passenger in San Francisco and took her home to West Berkeley on July 18.
The passenger texted her husband while en route, then fell asleep with her phone and wallet on her lap. In the morning, she realized her phone and wallet were missing, according to police. She tried to track her phone but it was off.
When she looked online at a receipt for her Uber ride, it showed that Latino had left Berkeley and driven back to 26th and Mission streets in San Francisco before stopping the meter, overcharging the trip by about $20.
The Berkeley woman later found numerous fraudulent charges on her credit cards, according to police. Many of the charges were in San Francisco and showed use of the cards at Target, JC Penney, Big Lots, a gas station, 7-Eleven and McDonald’s.
The cards were also used at Macy’s in Santa Rosa, as well as to purchase tickets on the website Vivid Seats.
Berkeley Police Officer Mike Parsons wrote in court documents that he obtained surveillance footage of some of the purchases: “Latino was seen as the sole person using or attempting to use the stolen cards fraudulently.”
The victim identified Latino to police during a photo line-up, according to court papers.
On Aug. 5, a judge issued a warrant for Latino’s arrest. The San Francisco Police Department arrested her on the warrant Sept. 21.
According to court papers, Latino denied taking the silver Coach wallet belonging to the victim. Police said Latino, however, was in possession of that wallet when she was taken into custody. Officers showed the Berkeley woman a photograph of the wallet taken during Latino’s detention, and she identified it as her own.
Latino told police she recognized the Berkeley woman’s photograph, according to court papers, and remembered giving her a ride.
She also “admitted to using the victims [sic] credit/debit cards at various locations” during a Sept. 22 interview with Berkeley police officers, Parsons wrote.
The district attorney’s office charged Latino on Sept. 24 with felony identity theft. She has been released on her own recognizance and is scheduled to enter a plea Friday, Oct. 2, at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Berkeleyside will update this story if additional information is provided.
Do you rely on Berkeleyside for local news? Support independent journalism by becoming a Berkeleyside member for $10 a month or even less, or by making a one-time donation.