I'm referring to thieves on motorbikes or on foot. They point a knife or gun at you. They quickly come and go.

Asking this question to figure out if I need to carry my passport in somewhere secure or not

Please ONLY respond if you've been to South America more than a month.

  • 2
    Given that no thieves from Brazil or South America are likely to post an answer, all we are left with is speculation. This is likely to mean your question as asked will be closed because IMHO it falls into What types of questions should I avoid asking?. OTOH the question you seem to be asking, "What is the best way to safely carry/secure my passport when traveling in Brazil (or SthAm in general)", would be a more valid question.
    – Peter M
    Dec 27, 2021 at 15:26
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    @PeterM it's not necessarily speculations, reliable statistics do exist (from police reports for example). If there's a reliable statistics that would be a good answer. Dec 27, 2021 at 15:31
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    In general, snatch thieves steal anything they can take easily. If you have a bag they can snatch, they'll take it regardless of whether there is a passport, wallet and/or phone in it. They'll look inside when they are safe. Do you need to carry your passport somewhere secure? Silly question, really. Sticking out of a back pocket – no. In a zipped inner pocket out of sight – yes. Dec 27, 2021 at 16:15
  • @NeanDerThal I know I'm splitting hairs, but to me the use of the word "want" implies what they were intending to achieve rather than what the statistics will show that they actually achieved.
    – Peter M
    Dec 27, 2021 at 17:17

2 Answers 2


The state of São Paulo has this annual report called Perfil do Roubo that shows what were the objects taken in thieves. I live in Brazil and I can affirm this report represents other Brazilian cities as well.

According to the 2021 report, 40% of the occurrences included the victim's documents. Only 10% of the occurrences exclusively targeted the victim's documents.

They're not interested in your passport. You don't need to worry about that 40%. Brazilians carry their national ID card in their wallets, and that's why the numbers for stolen documents are high.

So keep your passport somewhere safe. Not in a bag someone can take from you. I usually have one of those "hidden" money belts I keep my documents in.


I've spent few years in South America. Thieves that you are describing will try to take anything they can get - your bag, cell phone, camera, wallet, sunglasses, hat ... they might even ask you to take off your shoes. They are not targeting documents in particular.

My passport was all the time at home, while I walked around with a copy of the passport's photo page.

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