Monday, December 30, 2013

The Grinch did steal Christmas - São Paulo

Bad guy. Image credit:

Did your mom ever tell you that if you don't have anything positive to say you shouldn't say anything at all? Well, I'm having one of those mornings that I am reaching for the positive (fortunately my mom is sitting nearby so if I need help, she'll be here). And of course there is a lot of positive going on here in Brazil, but also lots of negative.

The main reason I am not so positive this morning is that BH's favorite cousin had her house robbed on December 26. Yes, while she was down at the beach with us in Guaecá, some bad guys hopped a wall, jimmied open a window and tossed the house. Literally tossed. It took her more than a day to clean up after reporting it to the police. What were they looking for? Cash. Somehow they had been convinced that this house contained cash in some drawer. They didn't find any, but stole the television, watches, everything they could carry. And in one of those Grinch-like moments, they even stole both pairs of soccer cleats of her 7-year old son. It is that last detail that makes me feel ill.

And before anyone gets on my case that house theft happens everywhere, I know that. I suffered it in Miami and lost my engagement and wedding rings, watches, cash and a necklace worth nothing except its special significance. It is a terrible feeling. Anywhere you are.

The fact is that theft (and robbery) is a major problem in this city. Bigger than homicides, as I have explained in prior blogs. Now I think we would all rather be robbed than killed but do we really have to choose? This article from 2012 shows that there is a house robbed every hour in São Paulo. Too many. Mostly during the day, by the way, when the residents are not at home. Some robbers are confident enough that they park a moving truck in front and just cart everything out. Amazing.

One of the small details that came out in this case is that BH's cousin's house had been marked for break-in. A neighbor arriving home on December 26 noticed that a few houses on the street had dental floss tied to the gate. She removed the one on her gate but didn't think much about it until BHC's house was robbed that very night. This was not a crime of opportunity--the house had been targeted as being empty after the holiday. And poof! All the wonderful Christmas presents were gone. 

As is much of my understanding of what counts as right or wrong.

I am amused by much of the craziness of Brazil--after all, every country has its funny stuff. This is not amusing. But it also does not define Brazil--yes, there are robberies, theft, hold-ups but there is also joy, fun and beauty. I can't judge Brazil from this case, but the soccer shoes detail is what completely floors me.

We are on the eve of a very big year for Brazil. And for me. Let's hope this will be the last such post here.

I want to leave this with a positive note (I'm trying, mom!): on Christmas Day this year, my page passed 20,000 page views!! Thanks so much for reading, all.

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