In the City
As with any city its size, crime occurs in Rio, but taking a few basic precautions should keep you from becoming a victim of it. Most violent crime is related to drug trafficking, so tourists are more likely to run afoul of petty thieves than anyone more sinister. Crimes involving visitors generally occur in crowded public areas: beaches, busy sidewalks, intersections, and city buses. Pickpockets, usually children, work in groups. One will distract you while another grabs a wallet, bag, or camera. Be particularly wary of children who thrust themselves in front of you and ask for money or offer to shine your shoes. Another member of the gang may strike from behind, grabbing your valuables and disappearing into the crowd. Another tactic is for criminals to approach your car at intersections. Always keep doors locked and windows partially closed. Leave valuables in your hotel safe, don't wear expensive jewelry or watches, and keep cameras hidden except when snapping shots.
On the Beach
Don't shun the beaches because of reports of crime, but do take precautions. Leave jewelry, passports, and large sums of cash at your hotel; don't wander alone and at night; and be alert if groups of seemingly friendly youths attempt to engage you in conversation. They may be trying to distract you while one of their cohorts snatches your belongings. A big danger is actually the sun. From 10 am to 3 pm the rays are merciless, making heavy-duty sunscreen, hats, cover-ups, and plenty of liquids essential; you can also rent a beach umbrella from vendors on the beach or your hotel. Vendors stroll the beaches with beverages, food, and trinkets. These guys are no-nonsense salespeople, and quickly move on if you shake your head no, but if you express interest in their wares they will press you to buy. Most beachgoers take advantage of their services. Beach vendors generally charge about R$4 for an ice-cold beer, R$3 for water, and up to R$5 for a coconut water. Lifeguard stations, with bathrooms and showers, are found every kilometer.