A weekend of mob robberies on Rio’s beaches saw some Zona Sul residents attempt to take the law into their own hands. But the “crime mobs”, the vigilantes, and the social divisions that underpin them are nothing new, as James Young explains.
By James Young
Despite the start of the summer season and the giant Rock in Rio music festival drawing flocks of foreign and domestic tourists to Rio de Janeiro, the beaches of the Cidade Maravilhosa were reportedly quieter than usual this weekend.
Perhaps it was because of the overcast weather. More likely and more troublingly, however, it was due to the events of the weekend before. Then, images of gangs of shirtless young men, swarming across the sands of Ipanema, Arpoador and Copacabana, stealing cell phones, cameras, jewellery and wallets, were beamed across the country. In total 61 people, many of whom were minors, were apprehended.