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Safety Advises

All big cities have advantages and disadvantages, and Rio is not an exception.

You are a gringo (stranger) - and the thieves are looking for your money, camera, credit cards etc. So be prepared and do not let them take it from your easily... See below also general safety advises (unrelated to thieves):

Prepare in advance

Special socks or pockets or... (use your imagination) to hide your money/passport/ tickets etc. on your body, below the cloths.

Do not arrive with expensive items

Watch, jewelry, cellular phone etc. If you already arrived with such items - hide them well before you get out from the airport, and leave it in your apartment.

Take care of your passport and documents

Leave Passport, tickets and money in the hotel / apartment safety deposit box. It is not recommended to use a deposit box out of the room (lobby).

Avoid using cellular phone in public places.

Some thieves have the habit to grab them while you are busy in a conversation.

Keep an eye at your luggage.

There are special techniques to grab your attention in order to steal your luggage. If you are a single male, and a nice girl approach you - suspect her friends. 

Do not put valuables in a pouch or backpack.

No matter how hard and tight you hold them - the thieves may easily take them from you...

Always carry with you some money

Take with you 20 R$, just in case you are approached by an armed person. You are at a higher risk if you do not hand over some money.

If you are robbed twice or forgot to carry money

Believe it or not, but I met someone that was robbed twice within one hour. In such a case, as you do not have some money to hand-over, politely advise the criminal that you were already robbed some minutes ago...

Do not try to resist or react

If the worst comes and you are approached by a criminal element, give away whatever he wants. Remember that your life worth more than some $.

While touring around

Take with you only necessary items for your daily use.
Do not carry anything that if stolen can ruin your trip. Take only a copy of your documents (unless you're driving). If a policemen ask for your document, invite him to see it in your hotel / apartment - in front of other people.

Your credit card may be used by others

Leave the credit card in the apartment if you do not intend to use it. When you take it with you - hide it separately from the money.

Do not leave your credit card un-attended: Cloning a credit card is relatively easy. The waiters in the restaurant may charge you officially, and also go to a hidden place where he clones your card. It takes one minute. Several days later you will find that your account was charged excessively. We personally faced such a problem. Actually, we were notified by the credit card company that our card was cloned, after it was used to purchase items at several stores, 3,000 US$ within 3 hours.


While not in use, put your camera in a bag. A plastic bag (those you get in supermarket) is very good to hide such items. We heard about people that were robbed from all they had in the pockets, but the 500$ camera in a plastic bag stayed with them.

Backup your pictures

It is sad to lose a camera. It is worst to loose all the pictures taken during your trip. Backup often your pictures.

Riding thieves

It is common (especially near the beach) to steal cameras and bags by criminals riding a bicycle or even a skateboard. Strap your valuables (especially cameras) to your hand/body.

At the Beach

Only carry a towel, sun tan, oil and a small amount of money. 
This is also the place to mention another safety issue: avoid swimming far from the shore and be careful with overexposure to the sun. Remember, you are in a tropical country affected by the ozone hole.

Drugs - No No No.

Drugs are available - but they are dangerous !!! We heard about a guy that bought it in the street and 3 minutes later a policemen arrested him. He had to pay the policemen a lot... (see Never offer a bribe below)

Do not accept a drink or food offered by a stranger. Do not leave your drinks in Bars/Night clubs unattended.

Good Night Cinderella drug

Is a cocktail of powerful sleeping drugs, some 'friendly' people use to steal other's belongings. Once you take the drug, you behave like a drunk. Your 'friend' will help you get to your apartment, or to another unfriendly location and will 'check-out' your valuables, while you are helpless. We heard of people that woke up in a different hotel, to find out that their credit card was charged also for this expense.

Do not accept favors

Avoid getting favors - even by someone that created problems. A known trick is to spill something on you by 'accident' and offer to clean it. Walk away to avoid being robbed.

An affair with a local girl

Free affair or at a special charge - can cost you more than expected. Read carefully the following:

  • Part of the 'game' is stealing your valuables while you are sleeping with a smile on your face. (That is the reason why most hotels will charge you extra to allow the girl in your room, after registering her officially).

  • Consider going to a Motel for such events. Remember: In MOST cases the girl will try to steal.

  • Make sure you agree the 'service charge' in advance. Once agreed - Do pay at least that amount and do not bargain. We heard of someone that made the girl angry. She threw the TV on the floor - and the guy had to pay...

  • If you bring a girl to your room, thinking that 'she is different' - prepare to be charged at the end. It is wise to leave aside a reasonable amount of money for such cases.

Crossing roads

Before starting to cross a road, always look to both left and  right (behave as if you were also in England...). It applies also to one-way streets. Motorcycle, bicycle, carts and trolleys do not obey the traffic rules and drive in the opposite way.

Never offer a bribe

Some policemen may create a problem in order to offer a solution... let them ask for the amount of 'tip', but do not offer anything as it may put you in a bigger problem.

See also Car driving safety advises

In case you were robbed and need to report

There is a police station dedicated for tourists located in Leblon at Avenida Afranio de Melo Franco 159 - Tel: 3399-7170 - 24 hours. In case you need a replacement for credit cards, traveler's checks or reimbursement from your insurance company, you must go there in order to get an official report called "boletim de ocorrencia".

Credit cards customers service

American Express - 0800-78-505050, Traveler's Checks replacements: 0800-7020777
MasterCard and Visa - 4001-4456
Diners - 4001-4444
Banco do Brasil - 3808-3000
Citibank - 3460-2484

Rio has several police entities:

Tourist Police
Civil Guards - Guarda Civil
Military Police - Policia Militar
Traffic Police
Federal police

Most policemen (including the tourist police) do not speak English.

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