One Killed, Dozens Mugged, It’s Tourist-Hunting Season in Rio, Brazil

Rio robbers have been terrorizing foreign tourists more than ever. Nobody seems able to stop them. More than 20 foreigners have been mugged the same day the body of André Costa Ramos Bordalo, 19, was going back to Portugal in a casket.

Bordalo was killed when reacting to an assault in Copacabana beach, on Monday, October 14. The student of airspace engineering, had come to Rio with his parents, physicists Sérgio Ramos e Paula Bordalo. He was on the beach at 8:20 in the morning when a man stole his backpack.

The Portuguese student  started screaming and ran after the robber who then knifed him on the chest. Apparently the parents didn’t see what happened. The mother was inside the water and the father was walking on the sand.

Claudeci Bezerra da Silva, 23, the assailant, was caught by the police with the help of beachgoers who ran after him after the crime. According to the police they tried to lynch the murderer. He was apparently high on drugs, but had no previous police record.

Three cases of multiple robbery were announced in the last few hours. They occurred in Copacabana and downtown. The news appeared in Estadão, a daily from São Paulo, which commented apparently with scorn: "And the Military Police commander, colonel Hudson de Aguiar, stated that Rio is a safe city."

In one case, vive Chinese, three of them public servants in China, were assaulted just before 7 am in Copacabana beach. The robbers had a knife and knocked out one of the tourists before they took his video camera.

In another case, 14 tourists inside a van were stopped by six men riding three motorcycles close to the Lapa stairway in the center of the city. The criminals took over the van and were kidnapping the foreigners when the vehicle choked and wouldn’t restart. They then stripped six of the passenger of their possessions and left the van behind, but not the car’s key.

Among the objects stolen: close to US$ 1000 in cash, one camcorder, several watches, two cell phones and four digital cameras. Until yesterday night nobody involved in the assaults had been arrested.

The Copacabana police made an arrest, however, Thursday night. But this was another robber from another case. Dimas Leonardo Miranda de Farias, 28, was caught red handed while attacking with a knife three Colombian tourists. They took money, a camera, and documents, which were recuperated by the policemen.

According to agents from the Deat, a police specialized in tourists, Farias is one of 20 robbers who use a knife to assault tourists in the area. He was the fifth to be arrested in two weeks. 

Public Security Secretary, Roberto Precioso, announced that by the end of September Rio should have 220 wireless and mobile cameras monitoring the most dangerous corners of the city. They are powerful enough to figure out the numbers of car plates.

The devices should also be used in Vista Chinesa, Paineiras and Mesa do Imperador, three locations where assaults against tourists have been frequent. 

Wednesday, the 6th Military Police Battalion, which is located in the Tijuca neighborhood, got its own control center with cameras scrutinizing not only Tijuca, but also Maracanã, Vila Isabel, Grajaú, Alto da Boavista and Jacarepaguá, among other places. They hope these extra eyes will make them more effective.

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