By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Four men led an armed robbery on a hostel in Copacabana, Zona Sul (South Zone), stealing money and property from guests. The attackers waited until two visitors were let in through the entrance gate, in the early hours of Saturday morning, and then launched their attack on the Rio Rockers Hostel, locking guests and employees in the first-floor bathroom.
They broke into storage lockers and ransacked guests’ bags, taking money and valuable items, including cameras, as well as stealing R$2,400 (over US$1,170) from the hostel cash register.
Those caught up in the raid, who were said to be from Brazil, Chile, Argentina and the UK, have been giving evidence to police.
The hostel, on Rua Tonolero, opened its doors six year ago, and can accommodate up to thirty guests; it is reportedly already booked up for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Copacabana.
According to hostel manager Rodrigo Freitas, it was the first time the hostel had been targeted and emphasized the street was normally quiet over the festive period.
He said he was embarrassed by the attack, recognizing that the improvement in the city’s image was taking time and that it would be “long process.” The Brazilian guests at the hostel were said to be particularly angered by the robbery and its possible impact on foreigners’ opinions of their country.
Security has been stepped up in the area, and police in Rio are keen to reduce the frequency of tourist-related crimes in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, for which hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to visit Brazil.
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