Brazil receives a lot of bad press about its violence and high crime rate. While undoubtedly sensationalized by the media, many tourists do get robbed while in Brazil. João Pessoa can in no-way be compared to Cities like Sao Paulo, Rio or Recife for crime, but you’ll want to minimize the risks of becoming a victim.
Don’t start your trip by wandering around touristy areas in a jet-lagged state soon after arrival: you’ll be an obvious target. Accept the fact that you might be mugged, pick pocketed or have your bag snatched as is the case in any city around the world nowadays, take the same precautions you would in any Capital City.
If you carry money, carry only the minimum needed for the day, don’t try to resist thieves, you’re unlikely to come to any real harm.
If you’re robbed or assaulted, go to the police. They may not be paragons of virtue themselves, but generally they’ll consider you as a guest in their country and treat you well. Even if the police do nothing, be sure to get a copy of the police report to make an insurance claim later, if you’ve lost objects of considerable value.
Check that the police report has be completed correctly and that all the boxes have been filled in.
If you are held up on the street in spite of all your precautions, don’t resist. The muggers are usually armed, nervous and frequently high on drugs. Sometimes they will have a partner working with them keeping a lookout and you may have to deal with them also.
Locals may use drugs, but you shouldn’t under any circumstances, nor should you buy drugs in Brazil, either. Foreigners get busted or entrapped all the time
If you use alcohol, drink in moderation and keep an eye on your drink in case someones tries to spike it. A drunken gringo is an easy target
Child prostitution has become a big issue in Brazil, with posters warning about it everywhere, and foreigners are arrested with depressing regularity for having sex with children. The EU, the U.S. and many other countries are now cooperating to end exploitative “sex tourism”.
Don’t forget, the law in many countries now means that you can be prosecuted in your own country for crimes you commit abroad!