Hospital gunpoint robbery highlights the scale of crime wave ahead of Brazil World Cup

Nick Ravenscroft

Former Brazil Correspondent

A gang that robbed hospital staff and patients in a waiting room at gun point. Credit: ITV News

Just four months before the World Cup in Brazil, there are new safety concerns for fans.

Crime figures in Rio de Janeiro are soaring: there were 17 per cent more muggings last year and a 27 per cent rise in the number of people being shot.

Armed hold-ups are a daily occurrence across Rio. Recently one gang walked into a hospital waiting room to rob staff and patients at gunpoint.

Miriam Kirjner is learning to shoot for her job as a customs officer. But having been car-jacked by four armed men, the weapon is for peace of mind outside work too; she says she needs the gun for self-defence.

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He told ITV News' Brazil correspondent Nick Ravenscroft: "We have a saying in Brazil - better a gun in your hand than a cop on the phone."

The rising Rio crime rates are too much for some locals. Carlos was mugged by a gunman on a bike in broad daylight; nobody could do a thing to help. Crime problem is one reason why he's now emigrating.

Carlos Gonsalves tells Nick Ravenscroft he was mugged by a gunman. Credit: ITV News

The organisers of this summer's tournament say there will be a total of 170,000 police, soldiers and private security officers on duty to stop any trouble.

Police were credited for the once falling rate in offences after taking over shanty towns once ruled by violent drugs gangs. But the fear is that crime is just spilling out elsewhere.

Police operations have reduced drug crime Rio. Credit: ITV News
Lieut Col Joseli Candido, head of tourist police, said crime rates are not out of control. Credit: ITV News

When asked whether the police have control of the streets in Rio, a spokesman said: "Police are on the streets. That's the role of the police to patrol."

Asked whether officers had control of the streets, he added: "Yes of course. Crime rates are not out of control. It's a process, and we believe that we are on the right way."