DEATUR, the São Paulo City Police unit which operates just for tourists, has the following suggestions to make your stay in São Paulo as pleasant and safe as possible. These tips are based on tourist safety research carried out around the world. To call DEATUR, just dial 3257-4475
At the airport
Pay close attention during check-in and when claiming baggage as these are the most critical times for travelers, who are often tired. Airport crowds can also be distracting, making travelers more vulnerable to theft. Always remain alert at airport terminals and remember the following: Upon claiming your baggage, make sure it is closed in the exact same manner as when you checked it. To ask for information or assistance always look for an identified police officer or an employee of the airline you are using. Never talk to strangers. There is a DEATUR police station at all São Paulo airports, staffed by specially trained professionals to provide assistance to travelers. Always keep a close eye on your belongings. Be careful with men or women who approach you to ask questions. Their objective could be simply to distract you. Respond normally while not letting your baggage out of your sight. Do not open suitcases or other bags in public, especially if they contain electronic equipment or money. Never handle large quantities of cash in public. If you must use an ATM, make sure no one is watching when you enter your security code. If the machine malfunctions, only request assistance from identified employees. Never agree to carry packages for people you don’t know. If another person is not feeling well and asks you to go get help, do so but do not leave your belongings with this person, even if he or she insists that you can move more quickly without your belongings. When using taxis or renting cars, choose only registered professionals and companies. When entering the vehicle, ask that all your belongings be placed in the trunk. If the driver refuses, look for another taxi. It is important to keep your luggage in the trunk, especially if you are carrying a laptop computer. When using your mobile phone inside the taxi, keep the device away from the window. In slow moving traffic, do not handle large quantities of cash inside the vehicle.
It is important to pay special attention at hotels, as visitors spend the majority of their time there. Despite having security guards and a close relationship with the police, hotels are not immune to crime. Follow these suggestions to have a more pleasant stay: While checking in or out, leave your bags with a hotel employee or keep them in front of you, preferably between your body and the reception counter. During meals, leave your belongings inside the room, or ask an employee to keep them for you while you dine. Never leave your wallet, purse, cell phone or handheld computer on the table if you need to get up momentarily. Always keep your belongings in sight while in hotel common areas. Never put them next to you or behind your seat and always keep them close by. Don’t bring people you don’t know to the hotel. If you do receive visitors in the room where you are staying, it is mandatory that they fill out the visitor registration form. When you want to go out, ask the hotel employees for information. They can help you with good suggestions for activities and restaurants that are safe and conveniently located. If you are organizing an event at the hotel, all participants should be properly identified with badges. When leaving meeting rooms, make sure the doors are closed. Keep hotel security well informed before and during the event. Use the safe in your hotel room. Try not to discuss important matters, especially those involving money, near people you don’t know. Never accept help from strangers. All hotel employees in the city wear uniforms with proper identification during work hours, and are trained to help visitors.
During meals your attention is focused on the table, which could compromise your safety. Follow this advice to avoid problems: Choose places recommended by friends or the staff at your hotel. Find out the best way to get there, the best time to go and what type of service the restaurant offers, etc. When you get to the restaurant, ask that your bag or baggage be checked. Use baggage locks if you are carrying valuable objects or money. When your objects are returned to you, make sure everything is in order. If the restaurant does not have suitable place to safeguard your belongings, keep a close eye on them. Never leave valuable objects on the table such as wallets or mobile phones, especially if you have to get up from the table, even momentarily.
In public areas or at large-scale events
Events and public places where there are a lot of people with bags and other belongings are attractive targets for thieves. Take the following precautions to avoid any unpleasant occurrences: Avoid talking to strangers, especially those who are insistent. Always keep an eye on your belongings. Never give out personal information. Do not handle large amounts of cash. Carry camcorders and cameras discreetly. Use only officially registered forms of transportation. If you need assistance, look for a properly identified employee.