Safety is on everyone’s mind when they start planning their trip to Rio de Janeiro. While crime is largely localized in the favelas in Rio, crime does occur in other parts of town. But before you let your fears get the better of you, here are some facts and tips to help you relax and stay as secure as possible during your trip.
Facts about Rio
|Rio has a population of over 6 million people, making it one of the largest cities in South America, and the 2nd largest city in Brazil.||Violent crime in Rio is at its lowest level in over 20 years, largely attributed to the government’s pacification of the favelas.|
In any city as large as Rio, petty crime can always happen, at any time. All of the areas that tourists visit have a very visible police presence, and are largely avoided by the more criminal element in Rio. Most of the more violent crimes you read about are related to the drug trade.
Like any major city, Rio has its share of muggings and petty crime. Here are a few tips to help you minimize your risk and stay safe.
1) Leave your valuables at home. This includes things like your expensive watch, gold bracelets, laptop, passport, and iPhone. Think your professional grade camera is beautiful? So will a thief. Bring a small, pocket size camera that you can use to take your once in a lifetime photos, and put away when done. Nothing screams tourist like a giant camera wrapped around your neck.
2) Walk fast, and with a purpose. Don’t open your map in the middle of the sidewalk and attempt to look for your next destination. Stop in a café or local shop to do that more discretely.
3) Be aware. Notice your surroundings. Are you walking on a deserted street after dark? That is probably not a wise decision. Is someone walking too close to you?
4) Don’t accept help from anyone, unless it is a uniformed officer. A common muggy tale is one where someone spills something on you, and then offers to help you clean up. While you are busy wiping yourself off, their co-conspirator is busy swiping your wallet.
5) Avoid walking alone. Walk in groups whenever possible – especially at night. Criminals are looking for the easiest mark possible, and avoid groups. If you must travel solo at night, then take a taxi!
… But what if?…
What if, despite all your precautions, you do find yourself a victim? Here are some tips to help you get away safely. Remember, you probably have more money in your pocket than s/he will see in a week.
1) Have a small amount of R$ in one pocket, while keeping the rest in a separate location. That way, you have something to give to the mugger that will hopefully satisfy him and allow you to walk away.
2) Do not chase, argue, or yell at the mugger. Like the majority of petty criminals, s/he probably only wants your money. Do not risk a more violent outcome by trying to be a hero. A few Brazilian reais are simply not worth it.
3) Avoid eye contact. Do not stare at your mugger’s face. S/he might think you are trying to memorize it so you can identify him later.
While Rio is not the safest city in the world, it is certainly one of the most beloved by visitors. By following these tips, you will minimize your risk and make the most of your visit to the marvelous city.