Skilled Professional Robbers Are Keeping Me Away from Sí£o Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo skyline I never really liked Brazil's largest city - São Paulo - but now I have a reason to stay the hell away. Last week my wife and I booked a return trip to Brazil. We are spending a week in Rio de Janeiro and another in Fortaleza.

As usual when I begin planning a trip to my former home, I begin following the news there more closely, and as a result I have been shocked by the situation in the city of São Paulo, where people cannot find safety in their own homes.

Just last week, both dailies O Estado de S Paulo (www.estadao.com.br) and Rio's O Globo (www.oglobo.globo.com)  reported that several gangs of thieves invaded three separate residential buildings in an expensive part of the city to steal cash, jewelry and other valuable objects (many wealthy Brazilians stubbornly keep valuables at home instead of renting a safe box).

The trick is that they will corner someone coming into the building in their car and then force them - at gunpoint - to give access to the building.

These criminals are so organized that in one case, they told a pregnant woman not to panic, because they were not amateur robbers, but skilled professionals (seriously, this quote was pulled from O Globo newspaper).

A Brazilian couple that goes to church with me was recently a victim of one of those invasions, as their apartment building in São Paulo (they are permanent  residents in New Jersey) was targeted by one of these organized gangs - luckily, no one then was seriously hurt, but the shock remains.

In a recent conversation, they said that they have considered selling their property there - it's simply not worth risking your life going back anymore.

São Paulo has always had a high criminal rate - as one of the biggest cities in the world (over 29 million people live and work there and in the so-called Extended Metropolitan Complex), poverty is rampant in the outskirts of town - also, with not enough police officers to enforce the law (and the fact that they are underpaid), it is hard to enforce the law in those parts. 

But something must be done to restore the quality of life of those who live there - at least when they are supposed to be safe at home.

Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comments   

0 #13 John MillerShelly1 2009-04-10 12:27
My good Irish friend in Rio ( a redhead) takes public transportation (used to). He almost had a bullet through his head, luckily he survived with a few bruises and scratches.

Consider yourself lucky.
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0 #12 dhcShelly1 2009-04-10 12:24
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Why is it? I don't know, but the attitude that it is everywhere and nothing can be done about it is ridiculous. The other ridiculous thing is to wait for UN to solve these problems, that is not their job. We have to solve these problems on our own.
I will go further, look at the culture. The culture of "tomorrow", the culture of paying the cop R$ 50,00, the culture of paying the delegado, the culture of samba, praia, e carnaval.

Brazilians need to party less and hold the government accountable for their safety, for education, and demand an end to the RAMPANT corruption at all levels of society.

Until we deal with this cultural plague, justice in Brazil will be always for sale.
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0 #11 13 Years in Brasil, not a problemJohn Miller 2009-03-19 16:36
Hi,
I have lived here in RJ for 13 years, and not had a problem. Am I careful? Yes. Do I indulge in drugs? No. Do I walk around late at night on my own? No.
Have I seen acts of violence and or do I know about personal friends that have suffered this type of thing? Yes
Have I been lucky? Maybe. Will this happen to me someday? Maybe, I would say even a probable if I live to 100. I hope not.
But the same applies everywhere. Big cities, big problems.
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0 #10 "Remember with this economical crises all over the word, your country too can be the next Brasil of the future" dhc 2009-03-16 17:38
This is exactly the sort of comment that hear from my friends and family in Brazil all the time. I don't think crime is just about the economical situation someone is in. In a previous post I talked about the small town I grw up in Minas Gerals. Back in the 60's, 70's and until left in the early 80's, it wa a very poor place, with no jobs. People from there had to leave and go someqhere, usually it Rondonia or Sao Paulo. Today, the economy is booming and unemployment is almost non-existent, but crime became a plague. Why is it? I don't know, but the attitude that it is everywhere and nothing can be done about it is ridiculous. The other ridiculous thing is to wait for UN to solve these problems, that is not their job. We have to solve these problems on our own.
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0 #9 João da Silva 2009-03-16 14:30
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I really do love Brasil and Brasilians in general,their food, costumes and simplicity are beyond
What sort of different costumes we wear that differ from yours ? ;-)
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0 #8 I'm Brasilian and unfortunately I can't say that you are wrong. Nag Alm 2009-03-16 13:51
I would say that it's sad and it's true and I hope that the politicians realize that something need to be done immediately, in order to keep the people and the turist safe. There are criminality all around the world though, and I think that the United Nations will do something about it only when more countries start having the same problems.
Remember with this economical crises all over the word, your country too can be the next Brasil of the future ;-)
It's a shame that Sao Paulo have such a high criminal rate, I really do love Brasil and Brasilians in general,their food, costumes and simplicity are beyond explanations.
They are truly a great people.
The violence is growing among them and it's sad that nice people is inside their house's (behind bars) and the robbers are out. I wish one day that can change.
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0 #7 CHC - Chronicle Herpes Carrier........ 2009-03-15 18:14
You wordiness is just not effective any longer... You use it too often!

Piece of advice: You're a moron. It's your legacy. Deal with it.

Good day,

Costinha
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0 #6 BRAZILIANS ARE EDUCATED TO CHEAT, LIE AND HIDE, OR THREAT AND/OR STEAL,dhc 2009-03-15 16:28
Well ch.c. I am not sure I'd go as far as saying we are educated to "BRAZILIANS ARE EDUCATED TO CHEAT, LIE AND HIDE, OR THREAT AND/OR STEAL", but I believe that that major problem is the indifference and tollerance with the criminal element as well as an arcane judicial system.

I left Brazil over 25 years at the age of 21, but most of my family is still there including my parents. i grew in a small town in MG with no crime other than some minor fights and feuds. Today when I go back the town is not much bigger but everybody is living behind huge walls that look more like prisons. When I talk to my parents and friends about, they all cite the crime (break ins mainly). So I always ask, why does the amyor do anything about it. They always say that nothing can be done. The police for the most part never bother to investigate any crime, even murders, and usually have their ready made excuse that the courts will just allow the criminals out anyway. the people never demand any action preferring instead to live like prisoners. Crime in Brasil has to be the biggest threat to Brazilian national security, but we never hear the president or presidential candidates talk about or propose any idea how to solve it.
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0 #5 only 3 people at the table had never been the victims of robbery, theft, or carjacking. ch.c. 2009-03-15 00:39
it also happens that I know at least 6 people residing in Brazil and 5 Brazilians residing in Geneva.
100 % of them were the direct victims of either robbery, theft or car highjacking.
Not including to what also happened to those from their own families.
Also 2 friends (not at the same time) were also victims of thefts while in Brazil as tourists.

Furthermore, prices are usually higher when for foreigners than for locals. Be it at the beach, fast food vendors, small shops, hotels charging what you have not consumed..... etc etc.

BRAZILIANS ARE EDUCATED TO CHEAT, LIE AND HIDE, OR THREAT AND/OR STEAL, not only against foreigners but also against each other !
Even at work. Just look at all the red tape.....EVERYWHERE....in the bureaucracy.
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0 #4 agreed!naardski 2009-03-14 13:43
i was at a table with 20 people in sao paulo and one of them shared the exact same thing happened to them - twice! only 3 people at the table had never been the victims of robbery, theft, or carjacking.
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