By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Home burglaries in Rio appear to be on the rise. According to the latest survey from the Instituto de Segurança Publica (Public Security Institute, or ISP), when comparing July through September of 2012 to the same period in 2013, there was a 23.8 percent increase in home robberies in Rio. Areas in the Zona Sul (South Zone) and Méier have been the most affected.
Just last month, someone in Ipanema was kept captive in their own apartment while burglars robbed the house. The day after, five criminals invaded a residence in Lins, the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio, and detained the residents.
Speculation is that a large part of this increase in robberies is a result of the favela pacifications; criminals who earned their livings on drug trafficking before have started looking in other areas for alternative crimes to make money. Pacified favelas are now safer, but at the expense of the safety of surrounding neighborhoods.
For protection against residential crime, experts say the camera still reigns as the most useful deterrent, with options for both image and audio recordings. Another option that is continuing to be adopted by many condominiums is a panic button, a synchronized infrared ray and central monitoring technology.
In order to ensure that security and doormen are better trained and able to properly use these devices, some police precincts are offering a security course (called Curso de Securança Predial or Course of Building Security). Adenilson De Jesus, Carioca and doorman of a condominium in Méier, has taken the course, which he claims teaches all about prevention.
According to de Jesus, the course “…teaches one how to act in the case of an invasion and how to avoid a situation where someone of risk enters the building.”
In the building where he works, de Jesus explains that doormen are taught to never leave their “guarita” (lookout point) and to never open the door for a stranger without authorization from the resident.
While these things may seem obvious, de Jesus finds that in some buildings robberies happen because doormen will open the door for anyone, or judge based on one’s appearance.
De Jesus also says that in the garage of the condominium where he works there is a designated security spot; if a resident is held captive in the car and is obliged to enter the building, he or she drives directly to that space and the doorman, seeing this on the security video, will then call the police straight away.
There are also a few preventive measures that every resident can take, in order to avoid becoming another statistic. Lucilia Goulart, a Carioca who has been living in Méier for 45 years and in her current home for five, feels safe in her building thanks to the modern security system, but finds it very dangerous on the streets.
Exercising caution outside of one’s building is the first step to preventing home robberies. Goulart recommends that, “people should always stay attentive on the street; don’t open your bag or take out your cell phone, for instance. Walking after a certain hour is dangerous because there aren’t many people on the streets. After midnight, it’s much more dangerous.”
De Jesus seconds Goulart, saying that residents should try not to arrive at the building too late. He also encourages residents to always stay inside the building quarters when conversing with a visitor; talking outside the entryway will attract unwanted attention and “call the bandit,” as he describes.