Rio’s high crime rate

This item appears on page 19 of the September 2017 issue.

Brazil dispatched nearly 10,000 soldiers in the state of Rio de Janeiro on July 31 in an effort to tackle rising crime. Ninety police officers have been killed in violence between police and gangs in the state, of which the city of Rio is the capital and most populous area, since the beginning of 2017. In addition, it is estimated that an average of three people are killed each day by stray bullets fired during shootouts between police and gangs.

The trail leading up Corcovado to the Christ the Redeemer statue was briefly closed in early July after a Polish tourist was stabbed during a robbery on July 7. More than 150 robberies have been reported on the trail since the beginning of 2017.

The US Department of State warns that the rate of violent crime is high in most Brazilian urban centers. Public transportation, hotels and tourist areas report high crime rates, but incidents can happen anywhere and anytime. Carjackings and holdups can occur at any time of the day or night, especially at intersections and in tunnels. Express kidnappings, wherein the victim is taken at gunpoint and forced to withdraw funds from ATMs, also occur. Crime on public transportation is frequent and can be violent. 

The State Department cautions, “Armed holdups of pedestrians and motorists are common, including at or near public beaches. If robbed, hand over your personal belongings without resisting.”

The Department also warns travelers to avoid favelas (slum areas), even if on a guided tour. Neither the tour company nor the city police can guarantee your safety once you’ve entered a favela.