2014 World Cup: How To Stay Safe In Rio de Janeiro

May 4, 2014

What should you do if you are robbed during the World Cup (but not only)


If you have decided to go to World Cup and specifically to Rio de Janeiro, please be warned that the crime is ridiculously high and will be expected to rise during the World Cup. The problem is, no matter where you go you have a terribly high risk of getting robbed, in some places lower than the rest, but you should always be alert even if with a local.

List of emergency phone numbers

  • Police: 190
  • Ambulance: 192
  • Firefighters: 193

Bear in mind that despite popular beliefs the population does not speak English and this will not change for the World Cup. Some speak English, but it’s a lucky dip. In such specific sectors as the police, bear in mind it will take longer for both of you to understand each other.

Speak in the simplest English possible, and if you can learn some basic Portuguese. “Assalto” – means robbery in portuguese, so use that if it this happens.

It is very common in Rio for minors to rob you, they might even be doing so for fun and it might be their first time. And the problem is that quite frequently when they rob, they might kill you in order to avoid you telling the police about the incident. Also they will speak only Portuguese of course. Do as they say, DO NOT DISAGREE, DO NOT FIGHT BACK. THEY ARE USUALLY ARMED AND DO NOT BLUFF EVEN IF IT SEEMS SO. If you comply with everything, they will probably let you go. Be as calm and obedient as possible and you will be alive and unharmed. 

Also, bear in mind, shootouts in Rio are so common they don’t even make it to the news. If you are caught in one, hide for any cover and lay down on the floor. Usually they happen fast, so don’t move and you’ll be fine.

Despite popular beliefs robberies happen in popular beaches, during all times, all day, night. YOU ARE NOT SAFE IN RIO OUTSIDE YOUR HOTEL OR VERY SPECIFIC AREAS. Also because of the enormous amount of such incidents the locals WILL NOT HELP YOU or if they do you are very lucky. You will get robbed, stabbed or worse and they will not approach you until the criminals are gone! No one wants to interfere! Wait until they leave the area or are out of sight and then you can move, otherwise they might assault you again. Once they are gone, the locals will point out where the police is and that’s all the help you’ll get. If you are on the beaches, on the other side of the road there are police booths usually with police officers. Run towards one as fast as you can, because you need to report the incident and there is a small percentage that the criminals will get caught, but PLEASE REPORT AS THEY MIGHT INJURE SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS NOT AS LUCKY AS YOU ARE. 

I know it’s hard to recall details, specially if they showed a weapon, but try to remember as much as possible as it is very important.

After reporting it to the booth officer, they will start a search team, and the booth will tell the directions of the Police Station where you have to fill in a more formal report where they will ask you for details, you can call whomever and have some water to drink. It is not guaranteed that they will find them, but they might find a few of them instead of the whole gang (they might attack in gangs). It is very important for you to report as you can save lives and put the criminals to jail.

Also after the incident preferably avoid the region you were robbed in because the same criminals might assault you again or worse if they recognize you. 

Carry with you as little as possible and try to remember that you might get robbed any time or assaulted. Do not carry any ID – take a copy if you must. Also a tip: the police allows you to access your e-mail at the station on request, so before you travel to Rio send yourself an email with all the numbers you might need to call in such a situation, this is very important as unfortunately every one gets robbed at least once in their lifetime in Rio.

Stay safe, and plan your trip with Trekeffect!

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Maria Tugayeva
Mariya is a Marketing guru and writer, with a world experience from living and growing up in different countries. Her work quote is: "In a word: pleasure. It's like, my pleasure in other people's leisure." -Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Trainspotting

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