Rio is often considered a dangerous city, and yes, traveling in Rio can entail some risk; robberies and muggings are quite common, and some areas might be unsafe for visitors. It is therefore always a good idea to be prepared and have some street smarts. There are several things that can be useful to pay extra attention to, and taking such precaution will help you avoid unnecessary risks.
Here is a summary of some things worth noting to avoid being the victim of crime:
- Avoid wearing flashy jewellry and flaunting expensive items.
- Only use ATM’s in busy areas, hotels or banks.
- Do not walk alone at night, especially not in dark, isolated areas with no people around.
- Never let strangers into your hotel room.
- Don’t grab a taxi of the streets, especially at night. Call and order a taxi from a certified and known taxi company.
- Keep an eye on your drink at all times (applies to both men and women) to avoid getting drugged.
- Don’t leave items unattended at the beach if you go swimming.
- Consider distributing your cash about your person (wallet, bag, pants etc). It is a good idea to keep a throwaway wallet with some cash in it in case you get mugged.
- If you are mugged, never resist or do anything that might aggravate the robbers. Give up everything the attackers want and then walk away fast, but calmly. If you run away screaming the risk is higher that they will hurt you.
- When approaching your car, have your keys ready in order to make it easier to get in the car.
- You should always have the windows up in your car, otherwise robbers can easily reach in and grab e.g. your bag or jewelry.
- Do not have any valuable items on display in your car, thieves might break the windows and grab them.
- Only park your car in legitimate and supervised parking lots, if you leave your car on the streets it might get stolen.
- Do not enter favelas or other dangerous areas in the city without proper security protection and certified guides.
- If you have been the victim of a crime, note that there are several different police units in Brazil. Tourist are advised to primarily contact the tourist police (Delegacia Especial de Apoio ao Turismo – DEAT). Most police officers try to be helpful but might not speak English. Do not expect to get your stolen items back. Reporting a crime can take a long time and be a complicated process. Contact the tourist police if you need to report something stolen for insurance purposes.
Rio de Janeiro has a reputation for being dangerous and to have high crime rates. However, despite an increase in crime since 2015, the situation has generally improved during recent years and violent crime rarely affects tourists. Most visits are without major problems if you are careful and behave in a sensible way.