By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday, April 4th, with the entire country on edge awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s habeas corpus, in Rio de Janeiro new data from the Instituto de Segurança Publica – ISP (Public Security Institute) showed that crime across the state has reached all-time highs.

Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro
With the wave of crime gripping Rio de Janeiro, earlier this year Brazil’s federal government turned over Rio de Janeiro’s security to Brazil’s military, photo by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil.

In January and February of 2018, four different categories of crime soared to levels never-before-seen since the ISP began tracking statistics almost thirty years ago: cargo theft (1,719), motor vehicle theft (10,078), pedestrian robberies (15,107), and bus robberies (2,086).

This was the first time the ISP registered more than 15,000 pedestrian robberies in a two-month period. The 15,107 pedestrian robbery victims in January and February 2018 almost equals the total amount of pedestrian robberies from the same two-month period from 1991 to 1998 combined, 15,624.

In addition, cell phone and ATM thefts, which the organization began tracking in 2001 and 2003 respectively, also climbed to unprecedented levels.

In January and February, there were 4,210 cell phone thefts and 15 ATM thefts, both all-time highs for the two-month period. Before this, the ISP had never recorded more than four thousand cell phone thefts in any two-month period.

Other indices from the ISP’s report, such as home robberies, fell short of breaking records, but still showed alarming increases. Home robberies totaled 221 in January and February this year, almost seventy percent higher than the 130 recorded in the same period in 2017.

In an interview with Globo, Colonel Robson Rodrigues, a researcher at the Rio de Janeiro State University’s (UERJ) Laboratory of Violence Analysis, emphasized that the ISP data shows the lack of proper planning for the city’s limited security resources.

“In Rio, we lost some of the control,” he explained, “when we choose to increase operations in search of guns in the favelas, during a time of a crisis in resources, this option leads to us losing somewhere. It ends up sacrificing resources that could be used in preventive patrolling. It is a sign of the collapse of the police system.”


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