Starting this week, Born Again Brazilian and Brazil in My Eyes are going to take a closer look at security and how to protect yourself from "unwanted attention." Follow along!
São Paulo is not for the faint of heart in terms of security issues. If visiting a safe big city is on your list, you might want to skip over to some of the European or American metro areas. On a recent visit, Anthony Bourdain, acid-tongued celebrity chef, said “Try to have a friend in Sao Paulo before you come here. I don’t know how you’re going to do that…You want someone looking after you here. If you’re at the mercy of a concierge, you’re in a bad place.”
Since most of us visitors and residents do not have the luxury of a concierge (although we would really seriously like one now), we can provide much advice about protecting yourself, your family and your stuff. This is not tourism advice—please see Insider Guide: Best of São Paulo for some of the best places to see around town.
Over the past year we have attended a number of security presentations, and befriended a military police captain and attended neighborhood security committee meetings. We have had visitors robbed on buses and experienced the frustration of trying to report the crime at the local police. This information is based on these learnings, and is not comprehensive nor is it going to keep you out of all possible criminal situations. The idea is to make you, the visitor or resident of São Paulo or other locations in Brazil, safer and less likely to have a bad experience.
The fact is that there are people for whom robbing and stealing are the only choices they believe they have to survive in Brazil. We don’t have enough time or space to go through the hopelessness and poverty of some of these people’s lives. Lack of access to education and libraries and public health are all factors.
For these criminals, theft is their job. Full-time, every day. As expert as you get in avoiding crime, you have to remember that these folks spend every waking moment figuring out how to get money. They live it. But here’s the good news: the vast majority of the bad guys want your money or your stuff (as a way to get money) for drugs. They do not want YOU as a person. They do not want your kids. They don’t want to hurt you. They want money. Most of the crimes against individuals are crimes of the moment—they haven’t targeted you because you are blonde, or speaking English or carrying Hilfiger, or your husband works for a major European company. They are targeting you because you are distracted looking on your ipad, chatting on your cell phone, driving with your purse on the front seat, or leaving a bank, where there is some kind of probability that you are withdrawing large sums of money.
Starting this week, we are starting a series of posts about personal security and what you can do to be safe here in Brazil. Some of the advice is even pertinent to traveling anywhere outside your home country.
We are going to split up the posts into the following major subject headings:
- Street smarts
- Car smarts
- School smarts
- Home smarts
- Security in specific places–foreigners
- Soccer games
- Shopping centers
- Restaurants –arrastoes
- Cool and scary stuff (tattoos, stats)
- Kid smarts
- Internet smarts
- Elsewhere in Brazil, and other information
This is important information. If you are moving to, visiting or have family or friends visiting the country, please pass on these tips. We both are married to Brazilians and we want everyone to have a wonderful and safe sojourn in Brazil. Next post, we’ll take a look at street smarts.
Until then…. stay safe.