Brazil, especially Rio, has had a bad reputation for personal safety and many potential visitors have been put off travelling there. Much of this reputation can be put down to wild exaggeration, but it has had the beneficial effect of spurring the various city authorities into doing something about it. There are now far more tourist police, who are a great deal more helpful to visitors, and there is much better patrolling of problem areas. Although there is far more being done to improve security, an awareness of the following will lessen the risk to you and your belongings:
Valuables: Be aware that most crime is opportunistic and the best way to avoid theft is to blend in and stay in safe areas (if in any doubt please ask your hotel receptionist / concierge whether where you want to go is safe). Take the absolute minimum when going out. A camera is a necessity for most travelers but if it is possible to keep it in a jacket pocket, then do so. It is not advisable to take valuable jewelry or a visible wristwatch. Cash kept on your person should be kept to a minimum. Where possible, leave any valuables, documents and passports in your hotel safety deposit box (most good hotel rooms in Brazil have safes). If you have to take a bag while you are out, hold it in front of you where you can see it.
Beaches: A great deal of Brazilian culture and Brazilians' spare time revolves around the beach. As a result the beaches can be great fun and very relaxing places. However, please bear the following in mind if going to the beach: beaches in and around the major cities tend to be quite crowded so the advice given above is especially applicable; never visit the beach after dark; please bear in mind that the sun in Brazil can be more direct and stronger than you will experience in Europe, for example, so extra precautions are necessary; some areas, particularly in Rio, have dangerous undertows so you should stay near other bathers and observe the warning flags: red: dangerous / white - water is safe.
Special Tourism Police Station: +55 (21) 2332-2924