Is Brazil Dangerous or Is It Just Paranoia?

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A Carnival Costume from São Paulo, Brazil

A Carnival Costume from São Paulo, Brazil

“Paranoia is a heightened state of awareness,” psychiatrist R.D. Laing

Prior to my first trip to Brazil, I read and heard how dangerous it is to visit. I read about debit and credit card skimming and cloning as well as muggings and pickpocketing. After my my first visit to Brazil, other than the hotel security guard following my sister and I to our room, the only incident was credit card cloning and I’m thankful Discover recognized and shut it down.

Tent Card at the Hotel Restaurant Warning Met to Stay Alert, São Paulo, Brazil.

Tent Card at the Hotel Restaurant Warning Met to Stay Alert, São Paulo, Brazil.

This being my first visit to São Paulo and third to Brazil, I’ve noticed quite a bit of signage encouraging people to keep an eye on their belongings. I’ve also noticed a hefty police presence everywhere from the Metro to the Metropolitan Cathedral to street corners. Hotels and major businesses also have security guarding the doors.

What I find curious is where I’m seeing these signs. I expected to see them at the Metro, but in the hotel’s restaurant, each table has a little tent warning guests to keep an eye on their belongings.

Sign Warning to Keep Tabs of Your Belongings at the Convention Center Where ABAV Took Place, São Paulo, Brazil.

Sign Warning to Keep Tabs of Your Belongings at the Convention Center Where ABAV Took Place, São Paulo, Brazil.

At the trade show I’m attending, I noticed a sign on the way to the rest room to keep belongings with you.

Call me naive, but I assume hotels and trade shows are controlled environments where you don’t have to really worry about people doing bad things to you. As I know, crime as no address and I suppose a client I had a meeting with could, in theory, swipe my worn-out backpack when I’m not looking. Or, someone could hip-check me as I make my way through the hotel’s buffet line and steal my sunglasses.

I’m not sure if Chicago or New York are any less dangerous than São Paulo or other cities in Brazil. I mean, I’ve been in some pretty rough metropolitan areas late at night by myself (Chicago, New Orleans) and the only things that happened to me were some cool conversations with people living on the streets. (Sorry, Mom!)

I have to wonder, are all these signs and police presence due to paranoia and the Brazilian government being proactive to deter crime? Or are they a result of serious crime that has occurred?

Another interesting sign in the hotel was by the elevators warning guests to ensure the lift is at the floor before stepping in. Um, okay.Is guests falling through elevator shafts an issue at this hotel?

Seen in my hotel: "Warning. Before getting in, make sure the lift is in this floor. São Paulo, Brazil.

Seen in my hotel: “Warning. Before getting in, make sure the lift is in this floor. São Paulo, Brazil.

What’s the consensus? Is Brazil dangerous or is it just paranoia?


Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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