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BA suggests taxis after crew held up by gunman

December 14, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

An armed robber demanding mobile phones and money has menaced and robbed a British Airways flight crew strolling back to their hotel in Rio de Janeiro.

BA now considers the security situation in Rio is so bad it has advised crews to take taxis around the city rather than walk.

Flight attendant Michael Nicholas, 45, was walking back to a hotel from a barbecue with 10 colleagues when the gunman appeared, London’s Sun newspaper reported.

Undeterred by the numbers he was facing, the attacker held his gun against the face of one of the crew and forced him and his son to hand over their phones and money.

Nicholas wrote on his Facebook page: “One of our crew had a gun held to his face while his son and him were robbed.

“Half of us were unaware anything was going on behind us until we heard the commotion. Luckily, the son gave the robber his phone and money and they left.

“We are all safe and well but a little shaken. The local police refused to attend the hotel and BA security are on the case and dealing with this.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises tourists visiting Brazil: “The incidence of violent crime, including muggings, armed robbery, home invasions, and sexual assault, is significant, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, Salvador and other large cities. However, violence and crime, often involving firearms or other weapons, can occur anywhere and at any time in Brazil.”

DFAT adds: “If you are attacked or robbed do not resist. Thieves are often armed and you could be seriously injured or killed.”

A BA spokesman told the Sun:  “We take the safety of our pilots and cabin crew very seriously and issue them with information and advice for all the destinations to which we fly – specifying any extra precautions that should be taken in particular cities.

“We will be reiterating our advice to crew operating to Rio de Janeiro, including that they should remain vigilant when outside the hotel. We will now also be advising that they book taxis when travelling around the city.”

The taxi suggestion brings to mind another piece of DFAT advice for Brazil: “Tourists have been robbed and assaulted when using unregistered taxis. Use of a prepaid taxi ticket on arrival at the airport or taxis from registered taxi ranks may reduce the risk of robbery.

“Official taxis are generally required to have their photographic licence displayed. There is an app called ‘Easy Taxi’ which can be used and is linked to registered taxi companies – this provides users with the name of the taxi driver and the registration of the vehicle, as well as an accurate point of collection and an estimated time of arrival.”

Written by Peter Needham

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