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12 Aug 01:01 PM UTC

Brazil: Highway robberies triple in Rio state

Rio de Janeiro state experiences sharp increase in highway robberies; violent theft increasingly prevalent nationwide

TIMEFRAME expected from 8/19/2017, 11:56 AM until 8/19/2017, 11:56 AM (America/Sao_Paulo).

COUNTRY/REGION Brazil

Event

Incidences of armed cargo theft nearly tripled in Rio de Janeiro state from 2013 to 2016, with significant increases elsewhere in Brazil. The nationwide estimated loss from cargo piracy is likely to reach USD 1.3 billion in 2017. Furthermore, the deteriorating security environment has affected local businesses; many firms now spend up to 20 percent of their budget on security, as compared to five percent in recent years.

The trend is the culmination of increasingly sophisticated criminal networks taking advantage of deep cuts to security spending due to the country's budgetary crisis. As a countermeasure, President Michel Temer ordered the transfer of 10,000 troops in July to Rio de Janeiro state to combat both highway robbery and generalized gang violence in the city of Rio and its environs. Highways throughout the country are likely to remain dangerous for the foreseeable future.

Context

The recent deterioration of security conditions in Rio de Janeiro sheds light on the failure of the state's security polices, notably Rio's ''pacification'' strategy, which involves the deployment of Police Pacification Units (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora; UPP), to establish a presence in particularly crime-ridden areas of the city, notably favelas.

Advice

Generally speaking, individuals present in Brazil are advised to conceal signs of wealth to avoid attracting the attention of would-be thieves and avoid entering favelas (slums; often located in very close proximity to more affluent neighborhoods). Keep in mind that criminals are often armed; never offer resistance if assaulted.​