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How Bad Is Brazil's Crime? Watch This Mugging On Live TV

Brazil's Globo TV set out to do a simple story about how bad street crime is in Rio de Janeiro, and it quickly got an answer.

As you can see in the video at the top, the reporter is conducting a live interview and asks the woman, who is not named, if she is scared of all the crime in the center of Rio. She starts to answer when suddenly a young man sneaks up from behind and rips the gold necklace from her neck.

The robber breaks the necklace, but doesn't manage to get it from her before he runs off. The reporter gives chase briefly, but can't catch him.

You'll also see that the attacker's face has been obscured in the video because Brazilian laws protect minors from being identified, even if they commit crimes.

Brazil's rampant street crime isn't new, but getting a handle on it has taken on an added urgency because the World Cup is only two months away.

Rio de Janeiro will be hosting several matches, including the final, and authorities have attempted to clamp down on crime before the tourists start pouring in.

Instead, crime is spiking. A newspaper report Thursday warns that criminals have been duplicating tourist debit cards at ATMs at Rio's main international airport. Fourteen machines were compromised there.

According to the police, cellphone robberies in Rio have gone up 121 percent since last year. Robberies on buses have spiked 118 percent. In one popular area called Santa Theresa, street robberies have gone up 93 percent. Murders in Rio de Janeiro state have jumped 18 percent this year.

This is despite an aggressive policing program called pacification, in which specially trained police units are now based in troubled favelas, or shantytowns.

Last month, Rio's state government had to ask for help from the federal government to pacify the vast slum complex known as Mare, home to 130,000. Despite tanks on the streets, there have been shootouts between drug gangs and security forces in recent days.

"It's really difficult [here in Rio]; the population is at the mercy of the criminals [and] we need more people to help us here," another woman told Globo TV in an interview after the necklace attack.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
Paula Moura
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