By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Long regarded as the most affluent and safest neighborhood in Rio, the upmarket Leblon now has the unfortunate honor of the highest number pedestrian robberies in Zona Sul (South Zone), according to data from the Institute of Public Security (ISP).
The ISP survey listed 241 pedestrian robberies in the first three months of the year and 91 cell phone thefts in the same period.
This puts Leblon, which has the highest property values in the entire country, above such historically crime-plagued tourist areas as Copacabana, as well as Flamengo, Botafogo and Ipanema.
In a report by local news outlet O Globo, president of the Leblon Residents’ Association and the neighborhood’s Commercial Association, Evelyn Rosenzweig says she was amazed at the statistics, even if she personally knows a lot of victims in the area. For her, they reinforce the need to launch Leblon Presente, a security program that has had success in other parts of the city.
“I did not believe this was happening in that proportion. It seems that the theives realized the fragility in policing. But you can not argue that the state is out of money. Everyone spends a lot on private security. Let’s unite and create the Leblon Presente. Let’s do it assertively and legitimately by law,” Rosenzweig told the newspaper.
In addition to the troubling data in the new ISP report, the residence of Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão’s apartment in Leblon was broken into last week, as well as reports of recent robberies at traditional bars such as Bracarense and Aconchego Carioca.
The ISP survey also showed Leblon ranks third for shoplifting throughout the entire city. There were 1,239 cases (of pedestrian thefts, commercial establishments, residences or in groups) in the first three months of this year. Only Engenho Novo (with 1,290 cases of thefts) and Campo Grande (with 1,259) are worse off.
Residents say Avenida General San Martin is one of the most dangerous in the neighborhood. According to Marilda Mello, an employee of a clothing store on Avenida Ataufo de Paiva, taking the bus from General San Martin is asking to be robbed.
“We can not stay at night on San Martin. It is a guarantee to get robbed. Thieves go by bike and take everything from people at the bus stop.”