By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The second weekend of 2015 was not only marked by high temperatures and crowded beaches, but looting or the mass robberies known locally as “arrastões” (big drags) and the start of Operação Lei Seca – Praia (Operation Dry Law – Beach).
While one group of policemen was busy chasing groups of youths accused of robbing beach-goers on the sands of Ipanema beach, another group was stopping drivers leaving the beach and asking them to take breathalyzer tests.
Those who want to go to Rio’s beaches by car this summer will have to settle for non-alcoholic beverages once there, or risk being caught by Operação Lei Seca.
The measure, for the first time implemented during the day, started this past weekend and will be in place until February, from Friday through Sunday at seven strategic points that lead drivers to the city’s beaches. According to government officials the objective is to remind motorists that drinking and driving even during the day is an infraction.
According to official data, on the first day of the operation (January 9th) 200 drivers were stopped, 56 of whom were fined and eighteen who had their National Driver’s License (CNH) apprehended.
The weekend was also marked by looting at the seashore. At least twenty people were arrested on Sunday, January 11th, in Ipanema for robbing beach-goers, according to Rio’s Municipal Guard and Military Police reports. According to social media venue Twitter there were several occurrences of thefts at Posto 8 in Ipanema (near Arpoador and Rua Joaquim Nabuco) with beach-goers running to get away from groups of youngsters who were trying to rob people on the sand.
As temperatures soared on Sunday, Operation Summer at the city’s metro stations was also implemented, with a greater number of metro trains available and shorter intervals between trains at stations during the weekends. Surfboards will also be allowed on metro trains during the weekends, although they have to be protected by a cover.