By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – According to a survey released on Friday by the Public Security Institute (ISP), cases of pedestrian robberies rose again since last year. There was an increase of 12.5 percent, with 5,667 reported incidents in December 2013 and 6,374 in the same month in 2014. Fortunately there was good news as well, the report also stated the number of murders fell by 11.7 percent in the same period.
According to the ISP survey, the number of reported incidents of street robberies (assaults on pedestrians and buses, including cellular phones taken by thieves) increased by 18.5 percent. There were 6,626 in December 2013 and 7,849 last month. The data also showed an increase of 37.3 percent in the number of teenagers arrested, an increase of 528 to 725 cases.
The report comes on the heals of several mass robberies known locally as “arrastões” (big drags) occurring on Rio’s famous Zona Sul (South Zone) beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. To combat this, authorities have announced Operação Verão (Operation Summer) where this weekend 800 Military Police will set up ten points on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro to intercept suspicious groups of youths from making it to the beach areas.
The program includes the districts of Botafogo and Flamengo (2 BPM), Leme and Copacabana (19 BPM), Leblon and Ipanema (23 BPM), as well as Barra and Recreation (31 BPM). Also a Shock Battalion of police (BPChq) and a Canine Unit Battalion (BAC) are involved, among others. There will be two observation towers at Arpoador in operation and an aircraft of the PM Aeromóvel Grouping (GAM), equipped with an ultra modern camera to send images in real time to the command central.
The good news in the ISP report is that the number of murders (those charged with intent to kill), fell 11.7 percent in December last year compared to the same month of 2013, there were 407 cases verses 461 last year. The highest number of incidents was recorded in the Baixada Fluminense with 146 homicides.
However on an annual comparison looking at the entire year of 2013 to 2014 statistics, there was an increase in crime that concern authorities and frighten the public. According to the ISP, the number of murders, for example, rose four percent compared to those in 2013. There were 4,939 cases, 194 more than the 4,745 the year before.
The pedestrian robberies also have become more frequent in the past year. In 2013 there were 60,618 cases reported; in 2014, 80,558. That means there were 19,940 more robberies, which represents an increase of 32.8 percent. The ISP also found an increase in the total number of vehicle thefts with 32,680 cases reported last year. In 2013, there were 28,002 representing a growth of sixteen percent.