Subscribe to SmallPlanet

Adapting for Special Needs Overseas - Call for Essays

Five stars on Amazon! Don't miss Talesmag's first book of essays, on cross-cultural food experiences from Mexico to Mongolia (plus recipes!)
Submit a Real Post Report

Sao Paulo



Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I know some people hold back on this section and give the generic "just be smart and aware" comment. However, if I am honest, crime in Sao Paulo is bad. It doesn't exist in pockets or only at night, and they don't randomly target just the flashy. Crime happens everywhere in all neighborhoods at all times.

We lived in Sao Paulo for two years and knew three people that were robbed at gun point - two on a busy street and one in her car while she was stopped in traffic (where they busted out the windows to get to her and her valuables). Our apartment was targeted and robbed. We lost all of our valuables, including the stuff in our hidden "theft proof" safe.

In all instances we and our friends followed the protocol -- be aware, blend in, don't wear jewelry, don't carry large popular branded purses, etc. It doesn't matter. There is really nothing you can do but know that it MAY happen and how to handle the situation if it does. - Nov 1, 2017


You could get pickpocketed or robbed or shot. I think the crime concerns here are overblown. Petty crime exists like it does in most of the developing world. If you get confronted, you give up your valuables. As long as you aren't a drug trafficker, you probably don't have serious issues to worry about. - Apr 17, 2017
Yes. I was never personally a victim, but have seen and heard of incidents taking place. Sao Paulo's reputation as a dangerous city is somewhat overblown so the danger is being lulled into a sense of false security after you settle in. But it's reputation is also still somewhat deserved. If you use common sense, you should be OK, but I would always be aware when walking around even in the nicest parts of the city. Unfortunately, some incidents just happen when you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Talk with RSO and take their advice. - Apr 11, 2017
Yes, I would suggest talking to RSO. I have not been a victim but I am also super careful. Don't use your phone in public, don't walk after 8pm on streets (especially alone), don't carry lots of money, don't wear jewelry, etc. Lots of robberies. - Jan 15, 2017
Sao Paulo is rated critical for crime. It is vital that you and your family practice security awareness at all times. Crime occurs based upon opportunity! - Jan 6, 2017
Crime is more common here than in most U.S. cities, so you should be more aware. People have been mugged, cell phones sometimes get lifted. But your building will have a gate and guards. You will live in safe neighborhoods. You will know where not to go late at night. You will adapt your everyday routine around certain safety precautions and then you won't worry about it too much. - Aug 5, 2015
Crime is a problem here. Most women don't wear their diamonds or other expensive looking jewelry on the streets. We have seen carjackings and petty thefts and have heard of more crimes, but thankfully, none where people were injured. - Aug 2, 2013
Petty theft is a concern. We live in a fairly safe and populous neighborhood, so I feel completely safe walking at night by myself to meet up with friends or to go to the store (although some other American women I know don't feel comfortable). When in a car, I put my purse in the trunk or on the floor out of sight. We also don't roll our windows down completely (or sometimes at all). Some locals put a dummy purse with a little money in the front seat just in case. This would be for the drive-by 'motoboy' smash and grabs. Most theft is opportunist, so just trying to make it a little harder for your things to get pilfered seems to be enough. Of course, sometimes things happen, so it makes sense not to have really expensive/irreplaceable things on your person if that is a concern to you. There are also a lot of aggressive drivers in Sao Paulo, so as a pedestrian and driver, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Pedestrians do not have the right-away when crossing the street. As a walker, you need to be extra vigilant throughout the city. However, there was a law passed recently (and seeming to be enforced) that tickets cars which stop or creep into the striped pedestrian walk-way during a red light. - Dec 13, 2012
Crime is an issue you can never let your guard down especially when in the car or walking on the street. Robberies and carjackings remain common occurrences. There have been increasing incidences of carjackings at schools and preschools when mothers pick up or drop off their children. That said, if you take common sense precautions and get over the initial shock (and keep personal safety in mind), you can live comfortably here. - Jan 25, 2012
must stay alert, vigilant when leaving home in car or walking--crime is an issue that should always be in the back of your mind - Jan 17, 2012
Yes, crime is high, and it tends to be violent. Lots of poor people here, so they form gangs, and they will not hesitate to enter restaurants to rob the patrons, mainly at night. - Jan 3, 2012
In general it is considered a critical threat post for crime. However, I have luckily not been victimized. Be smart, don't go to sketchy areas at night, tint your car windows, plan routes ahead. - Oct 26, 2008
Lots of crime, but I think people tend to make too much of this. I've lived in Brazil two years now and I've never been robbed. That said, I don't ride buses at 3AM through favelas while scrolling through my iPod with an American flag on my shirt. As long as you take precautions, you're probably okay. - Aug 14, 2008