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Safety a Concern for Olympics Visitors

2016-06-03 15:31:58

Jogos Olímpicos 2016 - Reportagem feita com Fred Lima, Chief Operating Officer da Fam International Group para uma revista Americana AIN

Safety a Concern for Olympics Visitors

This summer’s Olympic Games are expected to draw tens of thousands of foreign spectators to Brazil, yet without proper precautions many of them may find themselves the victim of crime.

As it did two years ago for the FIFA World Cup, the government of Brazil will bolster the police and military presence around the venues and other heavily visited areas, but that should not lull tourists into a sense of security. “Pickpocketing is everywhere in Brazil,” noted Fred Lima, chief operations officer in Brazil for security provider FAM International. “You are not safe at all,” he told AIN, warning visitors to be especially aware of packs of children ages 12 and up. Because youths under 18 cannot be sent to jail under Brazilian law, such gangs tend to roam the streets with impunity. He advises attendees to avoid attracting their attention by wearing jewelry, expensive watches and designer clothing. When walking, stay away from the curb, where someone on a motorcycle can grab items and speed off.

Since cellphone snatching is also on the rise in Brazil’s cities, Lima suggests keeping them out of sight while on the streets. If you must place or receive a call, head into a store or restaurant.

Another threat, though less common, is abduction. “What we have in Brazil is called lightning kidnapping,” said Lima. “They get the person, put them inside a car, go around to the ATMs just trying to get more money and then they release the guy after they have all the money they can get from the cards.”

Lima warns tourists to avoid taxis and to arrange for ground transportation in advance from a reputable company. For those who can afford it, he suggests hiring executive protection, but at the very least he advises getting a private car and driver for transport. “If you rent a car there with an English-speaking driver, you will pay about $400 a day; an armored sedan with an English-speaking driver will be $650,” Lima noted, adding that such a vehicle can be arranged through FAM or other executive transportation providers. The armored glass will help thwart the frequent “smash and grab” robbery, where thieves prey on cars stopped at traffic lights.

Lima cautioned that cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are dotted with slums (favelas) controlled by local criminal cartels that occasionally settle their turf disputes with gunfire. Several are located along the expressway leading from the international airport and cars have been struck by stray bullets in the past. Lastly, if renting a car, Lima advises not to choose an ostentatious model such as a Mercedes or BMW, as such automobiles are not common in Brazil and will clearly mark the driver as affluent.