Crime in Rio

A lot of advice you hear about how to avoid tourist crime in Rio is based on anecdotes…”my friend got robbed in a taxi”;”My coworker got robbed while waiting for an UBER”;”the brother-in-law of my second-cousin was robbed on a bus”; “I saw someone getting robbed on the street”; talk to enough people and soon you’ll be terrified to leave your hotel.

The truth is you have to be careful everywhere in Rio, but even more careful in some places than others. Despite many issues with the following data, it is still better than any anecdote to tell you where you need to be particularly careful while in Rio.

Crime in Rio by Neighborhood

Tourist crime in rio – our take on the data

Here is our take away from the data, which is consistent with what we have been telling our friends for a long time. Be particularly careful:

  • At the beach, specially Copacabana, which we generally avoid. We like to hang out in Leme, Leblon, Praia Vermelha, Ipanema after posto 9, Barra, and Prainha.
  • Hanging out in the streets of Copacabana, specially along the waterfront, and metro stations Cantagalo and General Osorio.
  • When exploring the Centro, particularly the area around the Uruguaiana Metro station. Avoid the area after dark and on Sundays. The area around Museo do Amanha and the port is probably Ok on Sundays.

Other tips

Ok, this is going to seem very simplistic, but this is the “rule” by which we live our lives in Rio in order not to be paralyzed by fear: Carry with you only the things that you don’t mind parting ways with.

Cell phones, watches, cameras, and bracelets are magnets for thieves. This is true whether you look like tourist or not – We don’t find the advice “don’t look like a tourist” very helpful in this respect – looking like a local doesn’t protect you that much more.

Always carry a small amount of money or something small that you can hand a potential thief to make him go away peacefully.

Not satisfied with this advice? Send us an message or post your questions in the comments below.

Caveats about the data

While these are the best data available about tourist crime in Rio, there are several flaws with the data:

  • Under reporting - A lot of crime simply doesn't get reported, so these numbers probably underestimate the truth.
  • Olympics effect - The period of collection included the summer Olympics and paraolympics, which brought a lot of tourists to Rio, but also saw increased police presence.
  • No normalization - Of course Copacabana is going to experience more tourist robberies, simply because there are more tourists there, but is it really more unsafe than other areas? The only way to know is to see numbers of crimes per number of visitors to each neighborhood. This would be pretty difficut to calculate.

More tips to get around Rio

Airport Transportation Options
These are the best options to get from the International Airport to your hotel. Details.

Beach Food in Rio
These are the best and most popular snacks sold on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. You can’t have a real Rio beach experience without trying these out. Details.

Street Food in Rio
Check out some of our favorites street foods in Rio. Melted tapioca, sugar cane juice, deep-fried bean paste, cow feet stew and more. Details.