Travelers at airports are usual and easy targets for thieves in Brazil. Besides all common recommendations it is necessary to be always alert. Here you have the basic guide on how to be safe in a Brazilian airport.
The number of thefts recorded in the Guarulhos International Airport Police Station (located in São Paulo) grew 33.5% between 2011 and 2012. According to the Department of Public Safety, 514 thefts were recorded this year, compared to 385 in the same period last year.
The scene is increasingly common in Brazilian airports. The thieves dress well, are educated, carry backpacks, bags, and their passports in their hands. All to hide and amaze any suspicion. Check out these tips for getting rid of thefts and embarking without worry.
Common Scams: Unnoticed Theft
The airports' cafeterias and restaurants are perfect to this kind of theft, because they are always crowded. Most of the travelers ends up distracting. This is when thieves act: discreetly stealing a suitcase or bag that was not being watched by its owner.
The same occurs in the check-in, when it is very common to see passengers leave their hand luggage on the ground while dispatching their checked-in luggage. The thieves also take advantage on those who wear backpacks, especially in queues, opening zippers without the owner noticing.
The "Information" Scam
Almost always in pairs, thieves roam the airport lounge in search of victims. In one of the most common scams, the thief acts as a fake passenger asking for information and, during the conversation, finds a way to make the victim distracted. While the victim tries to help him, the accomplice takes the traveler bag or purse without the victim noticing.
Passengers should never carry package for strangers to any destination. Even people who seems to have an innocent aspect may induce the passenger to carry drugs or proceeds of crime.
Nearby airports, clandestine cabs are mixed up with licensed cabs. In many cases, the driver offers a single and fixed price before the taxi ride begins. In most cases the prices are unfair and, sometimes, passengers get robbed by the drivers.
The main victims are careless passengers at check-in and waiting for their flights, according to the deputy head of the Cumbica Airport police station, Raul Machado Tiltscher. The crimes occur usually between 5 am and 10 am and from 6 pm to 11 pm, when criminals take advantage of the embarking and disembarking peak time.
Who to Contact in Case of Crime
The Delegate Osvaldo Nico directs victims to seek Tourist Service Police Station, also known as Delegacia de Atendimento ao Turista (Deatur), which is present in all airports in Brazil. "A police report will be made to identify the criminal and recover the stolen luggage".
If the occurrence takes place in the restricted areas, such as the embarking and disembarking areas and inside the aircraft, the passenger must report the crime to the airline.
The National Civil Aviation Agency, also known as Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil, has created a project to monitor, in a twelve month period, the operational security of 12 airports in Brazil. The Agency will collect indicators to assess the conditions of the air terminals and to direct the government supervision.
Security Types: What the Passenger Must Do
- Money exchanges must be done only in exchange offices or banks authorized and, if possible, not in the airports.
- Licensed taxis should be used. The safest option is to ask for information at the taxi booth inside the airport.
- If the passengers carry valuables in the dispatched bag (such as jewelry or electronics) they can declare the value carried in check-in.
- Always have the luggage in sight, preferably accommodated in a cart.
- Walk with backpacks on the front side of your body.
- Colorful and different bags helps the identification of the luggage in cases of loss or theft.
- Hand luggage, even on the plane, must be watched.
- If you need information go only to the Infraero's information desk.
- Some Brazilians airports have a 24 hours information telephone service from which it is possible to obtain all kinds of information and services about services at the airport such as car rental, radio taxi services, airlines services, telephone contact with police or bus lines operating by just making a call.