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.

The Rio Rockers Hostel, Robbery, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The Rio Rockers Hostel, on the corner of Rua Tonolero and Rua Lacerda Coutinho in Copacabana, had not had security problems before, photo by Google Streetview.

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.

Read more (in Portuguese)

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


  1. I have been traveling to Rio and other locations in Brazil on a regular basis since 1977. Unfortunately, hardly a visit goes by without my being victimized in one form or another. Several years ago I met family who are Cariocas by birth and it has made it an even more meaningful experience to come to Rio and spend time with them as well when traveling to other regions in the country. During that visit during Carnaval 2011, my HSBC card was “cloned” with more than $4000 being pirated before my intervention put a stop to it and I was fully credited.

    During this most recent visit from December 4-19th, my husband and I, foolishly wearing gold chains, which remained undisturbed during our nine nights in Recife, were unceremoniously yanked off of our necks in broad daylight on Friday morning at 11 AM on the beira mar near Posto 9 in Ipanema by bicycle thieves. Fully accepting our own responsibility for having been lulled into a false sense of security because we were without fear in Recife and wore these adornments 24/7, it was so annoying to have arrived in Rio only the night before, and on our way to meet up with another cousin from the states who was staying at the Ipanema Plaza on Farme de Amoedo the next morning, to have this happen. Ipanema, in broad daylight! I don’t know what can be done to get this petty theft curtailed because it DOES reflect badly. My cousins kept apologizing to us and reminded us of their personal experiences which have lead to their not wearing jewelery out in public. Be that as it may, it surely reflects poorly that this dictum must needs be the norm and will not play out well during the World Cup and Olympics if visitors, both domestic and foreign, are continuously subject to this thievery!

  2. myself and my wife stayed 2 blocks from here in a friends apartment last Xmas and New year and had the only attempted street robbery since moving to Brazil and living mainly in the NE must be said. it was classic attempted street theft where 2 guys were on the car lined pavement behind us and a bicycle appeared on the road on the left and was obviously about to create a corral by cutting us off on the far side of a parked van. I immediately pulled my wife across the bonnet of a car before anyone said a word, she was shocked as were the 3 thieves, (they became literally pissed off). The reason I was aware of what was happening was I had lived in Barcelona for the previous 10 years which dwarfs most cities includng Rio in terms of street grifting and petty theft.The problem with Rio and Brazil is there is too many guns. but the rule remains the same if you are in a city with a reputation then don’t carry what you don´t want to lose, simple! just have to live with the compromise but Rio one of many, many cities, tourists are handy money… cash targets

  3. Pickpocketing and petty theft is a pain and I agree with the comment about guns. However I have been living in Rio on and off since 1979 and during that time have only lost one watch. Rio is a big city. You know what the reputation is. Why go out wearing gold chains just because you didn’t get them stolen in Recife? Pickpocketers look for easy targets and you, Kenn, were obviously one of them.

  4. As I said in my original posting, it was thoughtless since the necklace was not routinely taken off at night and put on again in the morning. I was annoyed at myself and learned my lesson. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that these incidents remain commonplace.

  5. Questions for you all. Can police protect people 24 hours? Do criminals care about gun laws/control advocates? Should the manager have armed security now after the robbery? Don’t you think the manager could stop the robbers if he was armed or at least had a fair chance to stop the robbers? Does gun control really works? Don’t people have the right to protect them self? Please think about those questions and try to answer them unbiased.

  6. Dear stephan and Allison, pointing the problem on guns is baseless. The facts are, there are more legal gun(s) owners in the United States compare to in Brazil. I’m not a gin owner nor a gun lover, but it is a sad fact that criminals do not care about laws nor human lives. What brazilians need to do is 1 protect them self, 2 meanwhile demand more and better security on the streets, and 3 demand more investments and more saying in public education. Guns are not the problem, uneducated or less educated people who prefer to terrorize other people with a gun ( or without) are a problem. People who cannot protect them self and their property have a major problem when they are not or cannot be protected ( or trust) by their local armed police.

  7. Crime is lower in the United States vs Brazil. Chicago vs Rio de Janeiro = banning all guns (Chicago) vs strickt gun control (Rio), and winner of highest murder rate 2012 is Chicago, though Rio de Janeiro city dropped compare with previos years but still verry high. Guns are not the problem, its human behavior can be a problem. Switzerland, nation with the highest gun ownership in the world, crime rate much lower compare to both, the US and Brazil


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