Assaults and robberies are favourite topics of conversation amongst paulistanos, with the city’s crime statistics consistently higher than those of Rio. Nevertheless, by using a little common sense you’re unlikely to encounter problems. With such a mixture of people in São Paulo, you’re far less likely to be assumed to be a foreigner than in most parts of Brazil, and therefore won’t make such an obvious target for pickpockets and other petty thieves.
At night, pay particular attention around the central red-light district of Luz, location of the city’s main train stations and – though not as bad – around Praça da República. Also take care late at night in Bixiga (also known as Bela Vista), or if you venture into Praça Roosevelt. Always carry at least some money in an immediately accessible place so that, if you are accosted by a mugger, you can quickly hand something over before he starts getting angry or panicky. If in any doubt at all about visiting an area you don’t know, don’t hesitate to take a taxi.