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Travel in Latin America

Brazil Travel Safety
By:Renee Redmond

Brazil is known for the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro, powdery white sand beaches and the festive, music-filled Carnival. Unfortunately, some of Brazil's biggest attractions draw an unsavory criminal element. Brazil has gained a reputation for its high level of crime and violence, especially in big cities. Minimize your risk of becoming a victim of crime by exercising a little common sense when enjoying the dazzling sights of Brazil.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, travelers should be particularly vigilant about crime before and during Carnival--an annual festival held 40 days before Easter. A seasonal upsurge of robberies occurs around this time. The large crowds of visitors and revelers make easy targets for pickpockets and thieves. Be especially careful to keep your wits about you if you have a few festive drinks


The beach is a prime hunting ground for petty thieves.

Keep your cameras, purses and wallets back at the hotel when you visit the beach--a prime spot for theft. Petty thieves aren't the only safety concern while catching the sun on Brazil's stunning beaches.

The U.S. Department of State cautions visitors about the strong and dangerous riptides encountered at many of Brazil's beaches, including Rio and Fortaleza. The beaches of northeastern Brazil experience a higher incidence of shark attacks than the rest of the country.

Street Crime
Muggers and pickpockets are a problem for both visitors and locals. Lonely Planet warns against wandering around tourist areas in a jet-lagged state, making yourself an obvious target. Carry only the minimum amount of cash needed for the day on your person. Keep a copy of your passport with you and put the original in a hotel safe. If you are a victim of crime, don't resist--you'll be less likely to come to harm. Dangerous times include evenings and after dark. Street crime usually occurs in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife.

The poorest neighborhoods in Brazil are known as "favelas." Brazil's shantytowns are very dangerous places for tourists. The police often steer clear of favelas because of uncontrolled criminal activity inside. Lonely Planet says not to wander into the favelas unless you're with a trustworthy guide.

ATMS and Credit Cards
ATM machine fraud is on the rise in Brazil. The scam involves hacking into a person's account after he uses an ATM machine. Use machines inside the bank. Always hide your pin when withdrawing money. Bank cards and credit cards can be cloned without your knowledge. The U.S. State Department reports incidents of unauthorized charges appearing on credit cards after visitors return from Brazil. Monitor your banking online for the duration of your visit to avoid any unpleasant bills when you return home.

Drug-trafficking is a problem in Brazil. Steer clear of recreational drugs to stay safe and out of trouble. Avoid becoming a victim of date-rape drugs by purchasing your own drinks and keeping them with you at all times. Reports of rape and sexual assault are low in Brazil but date-rape drugs are also used to incapacitate victims of robbery and theft.

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