The Rio de Janeiro Tourist Police (Delegacia Especial de Apoio ao Turista - DEAT) is prepared to support travelers in several languages - English, French, German and Italian.
With headquarters in Leblon (the remodeled and expanded building was inaugurated in late 2008), the Tourist Police has been in action for more than 10 years. You'll see officers bearing a Tourist Police arm badge in most areas of interest in Rio. Not all of the officers on street patrol speak any languages other than Portuguese, but they'll get you in contact with someone who does by radio.
In 2008, the organization focus shifted from assistance to more proactive support and prevention. Reporting even minimal thefts is a way to help the department keep their criminal statistics updated.
The statistics can be found on the DEAT website. So far, they're only available in Portuguese, but once you get a few terms down, the graphs and numbers are self-explanatory and can help you get an overview of reported criminal activity affecting tourists in Rio de Janeiro.
Rio Tourist Police Statistics by Month
According to the DEAT, most criminal activity affecting tourists in Rio de Janeiro involves theft (furto) and robbery (roubo). Robberies, which by definition involve violence or the threat of violence besides a theft, have mostly not involved actual physical violence.
In 2008, there was a drop of 20% in reports in relation to 2007. Of 184 incidents reported in December 2008, 103 were thefts and 74 were robberies.
On the DEAT website, you can view graphs showing criminal activity by month (abbreviated as JAN, FEV, MAR and so on). Incidents are divided into:
- roubos (robberies)
- roubos tentados (attempted robberies)
- furtos (thefts)
- furtos tentados (attempted thefts
- outros delitos (other infractions)
The higher incidence of infractions in the peak months (Jan-Mar) and July should come as no surprise.
Rio Tourist Police Statistics by Area
A much more informative and useful set of statistics is available on the DEAT website. Roll down the homepage (in blog format) to the headline Estatística de Roubo e Furto a Turista and click on each month to download graphs showing criminal activity in different Rio de Janeiro districts and in some other touristic cities in Rio de Janeiro State.
For example, the statistics for November 2008 show 24 reported robberies and 37 thefts in Copacabana; seven robberies and 17 thefts in Ipanema; one robbery and seven thefts in Lapa and so on.
The file also includes information about criminal activity during two-hour periods of the day. In the November 2008 example, you'll see a peak of reported robberies between 8pm and 10pm and a peak of thefts between 2pm and 4pm.
Although that shouldn't stop you from going out to dinner or taking photos during your Rio sightseeing, those statistics are an important reminder of why you should be very cautious about wearing jewelry in Rio (I recommend avoiding it at all costs except for preserved situations such as dinner at your hotel) and why you should be constantly aware of your surroundings while taking photos and shopping.
According to the DEAT, special crime prevention strategies (details not revealed) are in effect for the 2009 summer season.
Tourist Police Address & Contact Information:
Rua Afrânio de Melo Franco, s/nº (no number)
Corner of Rua Afrânio de Melo Franco and Rua Humberto de Campos
Phones: 55-21-3399-7170 / 3399-7173/ 2511-5112
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com