Rio de Janeiro may still not be as safe as Singapor, but talking about the city as violent is just old thinking. The truth is that whatever high criminality here is left, it happens mostly in areas of the West Side that hold little interest to visitors. The areas of great interest to tourists are located either on the South Side, or the historical strip from Flamengo to Downtown.
The City has done a serious effort to improve safety, and results are starting to show. In addition to the federal and military police, municipal guards help control traffic, and keep the sidewalks relatively free of vendors. At the beach, cops on shorts patrol on foot and on sand-mobiles.
No matter what the authorities are doing to eliminate crime, however, the best solutions are always associated with personal vigilance. Here are some tips that will help you have a wonderful time in Rio without getting into trouble:
--Do not take with you flashy jewelry, gold, or platinum and diamond-studded watches. Rio is the place to buy them, but it’s prudent not to show off with them.
--If you have precious jewelry or other valuables that you need not carry on you to the beach, place them in the safety box of your hotel room.
--Also leave your passport and your driver's license (when you're not driving) in your safety box. Make a photocopy of your passport to carry along, in case you are asked to show some ID.
--Do not take along more cash than you need. Most restaurants and stores take credit cards, and you can use debit cards at selected banks.
--Stay on the South side of Rio or at areas specifically recommended by your travel agent. Avoid dark or isolated areas at night, such as the Flamengo Park, or the Financial District.
--When you walk, always pretend you go somewhere with a purpose. Looking like a tourist invites the criminals who think you are an easy victim. --Keep in mind that you are the most vulnerable at the beach; so, the small things you can do without losing even a bit of your fun, come down to just not leaving your expensive camera, passport and/or cash laying around on the sand unattended while you go for a few laps. Do not hide your money, just take only a few bucks on you and have a peace of mind. Do not take off your watch and leave it laying on the sand behind your back while sitting.
--If you need to take a bus (at your own risk), keep the exact change in hand to avoid taking out and opening your wallet (which should certainly be in your front pocket). And take a seat far from the window and never on the back rows.
--Sometimes you will be tempted to take a drink offered by a friendly stranger (man or woman). Watch, though, it may contain sleeping drugs. In this case, you will need help to get back to your hotel room, and the caring and friendly person can gain access to your valuables while you are helpless. Our tip: do not leave your drink unattended at bars or discos.
--For the same reason, do not take strangers you've just met back to your hotel room, even if you think you may fall in love with them! This is the easiest way to become a victim of violence or theft. Say that your hotel does not allow visitors and instead, go to a honeymoon motel. They are easy to find.
--If someone spills something on you in the street, as if by accident, and then rushes to clean it, say thank you and walk away. The person may have a partner waiting for a chance to pick your wallet while you are distracted with the cleaning.
--If you need to report something was stolen for insurance purposes, go directly to the tourist police (DEAT). Their office is located in Leblon, on Av. Afrânio de Mello Franco s/n, across from nightclub Scala.
--Well, regardless of all precautions, the worse still may happen: say, you are approached by someone who asks for your wallet or jewelry, keep calm and do not fight back. The guy may have guns, be on drugs, or may have many other reasons to react violently. Police officers in the street try to be helpful, but unfortunately most do not speak foreign languages.