The economic impact of the transformations in the “Cracolândia” in São Paulo central area continues to be reported. Recently, the rise in the incidence of wire and cable thefts in São Paulo central area led Enel, the city’s energy distribution company, to change the material used for closing manholes that give access to underground galleries, where there are hundreds of cables stored.

400 kg of Concrete

The metal structures are being replaced by 400 kg concrete covers that require a crane attached to a truck to be removed. Incidents of theft dropped to zero where the new cover was placed, which costs twice as much as the steel version.

Security Conditions

Since the beginning of last year, Enel has said it has changed around 200 covers and the goal is to replace 900 in the city central area, mainly around “Cracolândia”, where the incidence of theft is higher. Drug addicts that attend the “Cracolândia” are known for committing different types of crimes, especially thefts, to buy drugs.

Previous Measures

The concrete covers were replaced after an alarm system installed at the entrance to the underground galleries was not enough to stop the increase in thefts. The loss prevention team was not as fast as the thieves. When they arrived at the location, the cables were already gone, and the criminals as well.


Data disclosed by Enel, reveal that between 2021 and 2023, the company lost 47 km of wires and cables throughout the city. In the first four months of 2023, 3,886 thefts were recorded in São Paulo. The explosion of wire thefts was verified by the in 2022, when 14,168 crimes were recorded, which represent more than double the figure calculated in 2021.

Copper and Iron

Normally, criminals look for the cooper, the material used to make the wires. In addition, they also steal iron present in the grids that protect the water drainage system. Both have a high sale value in junkyards.

Other Company Affected

Another public utility company with recurrent theft problems, the Basic Sanitation Company of the State of São Paulo (Sabesp), replaced 35 well covers, since January. The exchanges cost R$ 131,000 to the water supply company.

Local Commerce

In March, news sources reported that at least 23 stores and other facilities had closed their doors since the beginning of 2023 in the area of Rua Santa Ifigênia and in the Campos Elíseos neighborhood, in downtown São Paulo. The reason behind was the same, insecurity brought to new locations of São Paulo central area due to the migration of the “Cracolândia”, which became itinerant.

The drug addicts used to stay in a specific region, Júlio Prestes station. However, after several operations to repress the concentration of drug users there, they started to move around the city central region. Now, this behavior has become the standard and brought a few negative results.

Traditional School Closed

The Liceu Coração de Jesus, in Campos Elíseos, central region of São Paulo, school founded 137 years ago, had to close due to the increase in insecurity in the central region. The school was near the “Cracolândia”, and it has suffered for decades with the lack of security, which has led to the loss of students.

The school was located on Alameda Dino Bueno, close to Praça Júlio Prestes, an area where the drug addicts remained for concentrated for years until they started to wander around the region.

Source: Folha de SP [1], [2], [3], [4].

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