With the end of 2022, São Paulo Public Security Secretariat (SSP) released the complete set of data on crimes that occurred in the city throughout the year. This allows us to analyse variations in numbers compared to the previous year (2021). The data also reflect trends, both positive and negative, perceived throughout the year in relation to public security in the capital.

Intentional Homicides

The city of São Paulo ended 2022 with the lowest number of intentional homicides in 20 years. According to the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP-SP), 583 people were murdered in the capital last year, 20 deaths less than in the previous year, a drop of 4%.

This trend is connected to a national trend, which has led to reductions in numbers of homicides in the country as a whole. What is still disputed is the cause behind this movement. Many specialists attribute the improvement to a several measures implemented by the security forces to strengthen public security, including the imprisonment of organized crime leaders in federal prisons. However, other experts highlight the moment of peace among the criminal organizations, particularly the major ones, like the Red Command (CV) and the First Capital Command (PCC). The reality is likely a combination of factors.

In São Paulo, the almost absolute dominance of the PCC is probably also another relevant factor. For that to be clearly visualized, the observation of the deaths recorded in other states, where there are several gangs fighting for territory and resources, is fundamental. Considering that most violent deaths are connected to gang activity – disputes, disagreements, debts, internal and external fights, repression by the security forces, the gang’s profile etc. – the fact that the PCC does not have to fight for territory, becomes something really important. Meanwhile, in Rio, the CV suffers with a different condition. This gang is threatened in its home town by at least two major “groups”, the militias and the Pure Third Command (TCP), in addition to the dwindling Friends of Friends (ADA). Even though the city managed to follow in the past years the national trend of decreasing numbers of intentional violent deaths, the famous tourist destination still has an homicide rate much above that of the Brazilian business capital. According to the Brazilian Forum of Public Security (FBSP), in 2021, Rio accumulated 19.2 intentional homicides per 100.000 inhabitants, and São Paulo still had 7.7.

Property Crimes

Unlike homicides, property crimes such as robbery and theft increased. São Paulo recorded 143,936 robbery cases in 2022, an increase of 12% compared to 2021 when 128,589 robbery cases were recorded. Regarding to thefts, we can verify an increase in almost 12% from 222,116 cases recorded in 2021 to 276,308 cases recorded in 2022.

Although there are no specific numbers, experts guarantee that this increase is due to the increase in the number of cell phone robbery and thefts aimed at making transfers via Pix and also bank loans facilitated by apps installed on cell phone. Gangs have profited so much from Pix transfers that the crime attracted the attention of the First Command of the Capital (PCC), according to São Paulo Civil Police. Another factor that may have played a role in this scenario is the continuity of the economic reopening.

Vehicle Robbery and Theft

The number of vehicles robberies and thefts increased by 17% in 2022 compared to 2021 in São Paulo. This is what data from the Public Security Secretariat show. Throughout last year, 56,183 vehicles were robbed or stolen against 47,987 in 2021.

One of the causes for the increase is the larger number of vehicles on the roads – imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Another reason is the price. New cars have become too expensive and zero-kilometre models are lacking due to microchips shortage. As a result, the fleet is aging and the demand for replacement parts for used vehicles has grown, including components supplied by illegal dismantling.

Motorcycle Robbery and Theft 

According to data released by Public Security Secretariat of the State of São Paulo (SSP-SP), in 2022, 39,462 motorcycles were robbed or stolen in the state. The increase was 38% when compared to 2021 when 28,627 cases of motorcycle thefts or robbery were recorded. During the year, 100 motorcycles were robbed or stolen per day on average. The most expensive and powerful motorcycles are used by criminals to commit other crimes. While the cheapest and less powerful are dismantled and their pieces supply the clandestine market.


In 2022, the city of São Paulo registered an increase of 132% in cases of kidnapping through extortion. From January to December last year, 44 of such occurrences were recorded, compared to 19 cases in 2021. In 2019, the pre-Covid pandemic year, there were four. The data is from the Anti-Kidnapping Division released by the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP-SP). The increase in cases may be linked to two factors; criminals specialized in banking transactions (Pix and banking apps) and criminals who use dating apps to apply scams.

Downtown São Paulo

During 2022, 43 thefts and 25 robberies occurred per day in the Cracolândia region, in downtown São Paulo. The data are from the 77th Police District, in Santa Cecília, and in the 3rd Police District, in Campos Elíseos, which serve the area, and were released by the Public Security Secretariat (SSP). Robberies and thefts increased by 66% and 45% respectively in the last year in this region. In 2021, SSP recorded 5,593 robberies and 10,836 thefts in the Cracolândia region. In the following year, the numbers increased significantly to 9,292 and 15,806, respectively. In addition to police actions, experts say that the easing of sanitary measures and the resumption of commercial activities in downtown São Paulo influenced this scenario.

The Operation Caronte, the easing of sanitary measures to face the pandemic, the return of activities in commerce and the decrease in the number of security officers are probably the main reasons for the increase in crimes against property in downtown São Paulo. Police operations pulverized the flow of Cracolândia through the center of the city. These actions make it difficult to offer health and social assistance services to users. For the Brazilian Public Security Forum, Operation Caronte was successful in combating drug trafficking. However, people involved in the illegal trade in narcotics have migrated to another type of crime: theft, especially of cell phones. In addition, the easing of sanitary measures and the resumption of commercial activities in the center of São Paulo influenced this scenario. With more people circulating on the streets, more victims are susceptible to crime. Another problem is the lack of police force. The number has been gradually falling and is reaching low levels. In recent years, the search for a police career has been lower.

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