All during my time in Rio, one figure kept popping up. The Police. At tourist sites, at the beach, around town. Police were everywhere. Crime is a very real threat in Brazil and in Rio. I talked a little bit about this before (here) that due to the favelas, income disparity, and tourism crime is a huge risk when traveling through Rio. I didn’t experience any crime while I was in Brazil, but I heard about many friend-of-a-friend situations where so-and-so got robbed by gun/knife/boxcutter. I did meet a girl who had her purse stolen by knifepoint the previous day and another guy who had a man try to take the camera right out of his pocket.
All the warnings about crime in Brazil, especially Rio, made me very anxious and cautious during my time there. I was told by the hostel owner to “not take anything out of the hostel I wasn’t comfortable losing”. Yikes! Thus, every time I left I only took enough money to survive the day and my point and shoot camera. I put a new memory card in my camera everyday just in case I had to give it up while out and about.
Crime is a very real risk in Rio and the police presence in the city was obvious. Maybe it is because Brazil is hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, but I kept seeing police wherever I was. Granted I was often in the tourist areas and crime is not good for tourism! Instead of alleviating my fears though, the police presence made me feel more anxious because even in broad daylight police were present. My entire time in Rio I was very aware of who was around me and kept my bag close!
The moment that encapsulated how real and prevalent crime is in Rio came from my tour guide when our tour was at the Escaderia Selaron. As we exited the van to take pictures on the famous steps, the guide warned us to “not go too far up the steps because once we were out of eyesight of the police we weren’t protected”.