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Romania 2015 Crime and Safety Report

Europe > Romania; Europe > Romania > Bucharest

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Rating: Low

Crime Threats

Most crimes against visitors are limited to crimes of opportunity. Panhandlers – often groups of children -- can be aggressive and have resorted to grabbing/tearing clothing in their efforts to distract and steal from their target. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets (including very young children and well-dressed young adults) operate in train stations and on trains, buses, and other forms of public transportation.

Simple assaults directed against Americans outside of clubs, usually late at night, after alcohol has been consumed and the victim is alone are possible. 

Credit card fraud are among the most common crimes affecting foreigners. 

Organized crime threats include drug smuggling, cyber crime, human trafficking, financial crime, and counterfeiting. Romania is actively fighting Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and illegal migration as a guardian to one of the European Union’s main external borders. Economic and financial crimes continue to be a threat, and the authorities expect an increase of illegitimate activities like cigarette and alcohol smuggling and sales of counterfeit products due to unfavorable global economic conditions. One of the continuing priorities of the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police is to increase the effectiveness of its counter organized-crime units in order to react to the new threats and challenges posed by criminals in the region.

Cyber

Cyber crime is a major threat and a constant challenge for the local law enforcement, as it grows and spreads across the borders despite the efforts of authorities’ international cooperation. Phishing, fraudulent electronic bids, and hacking are some of the notable trends. 

Areas of Concern

During Embassy new employee security in-brief, it is advised against travelling to the SE Ferentari area of Bucharest because of drug crimes; RSO is unaware of the prevalence.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions 

Driving is hazardous and is perhaps the biggest safety concern that visitors will encounter. At times, there is little regard for commonly accepted rules of the road. While traffic codes were improved legislatively, the government eased enforcement. Visitors who plan to self-drive must familiarize themselves with traffic laws. It is advised that travelers driving between cities do so only during the day, as there is little lighting on roads outside of major cities. Drivers should be aware of pedestrians, farm animals, and no shoulders when driving in the countryside. Additionally, if an accident takes place in a rural location, emergency medical response may be severely delayed and will not meet U.S. standards. 

Romania experiences severe winters, and roads are not maintained to the same standard as those in the U.S. Travelers must be prepared for these conditions and expect lengthy delays if traveling by vehicle, train, or air during the winter. 

Public Transportation Conditions 

Train travel is inexpensive, convenient, and can be enjoyable if you are careful. Crimes against train passengers are not uncommon, particularly in rural areas and on overnight trains. A number of thefts and assaults have occurred on trains, including thefts from passengers in closed compartments.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Political Violence Rating: Low 

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concern

There have been no recent cases or reports of regional terrorism in Romania. While the possibility of an international or transnational terrorism incident targeting Americans in Romania is unlikely, you should still adhere to basic security practices as recommended below under: “Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim.”

Terrorism Rating: Medium 

Civil Unrest

Since the collapse of the former communist regime in 1989, Romania has had no major instances of civil unrest. The government grants permission to groups who wish to assemble for demonstration purposes, and a permit is required in accordance with Romanian law. Demonstrations are normally well-contained, and the police are close at hand. Nevertheless, for general safety purposes, it is wise to stay away from these gatherings and be alert that normal traffic patterns can be disrupted during and just after an event.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Several Romanian cities, to include Bucharest, are in active seismic zones. The last major earthquake in Bucharest took place in 1977, with a loss of over 1,000 lives, and smaller quakes take place on a frequent basis. 

Civil authorities have plans in place for major disasters, but financial resources to prepare for natural disasters are not available, and local authorities would be quickly overwhelmed in such an event. Travelers should assume that in the event of a natural disaster authorities will determine priorities - with no guaranteed support for visitors. 

Drug-related Crimes

Romania is a major transit point for various drugs, to include heroin, from the east and cocaine from South America. 

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnappings are uncommon, though there continue to be “child custody” cases reported to the Embassy.

Police Response

The level of assistance that can be expected from the police varies. Authorities are often ineffective at deterring crime, and response to emergency calls can be too slow to disrupt incidents in progress. Police do have the capability to conduct complex criminal investigations but are heavily burdened with petty crimes. 

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Call the U.S. Embassy at: 021-200-3300 (normal working hours) or 021-200-3433 (after hours and weekends)

Crime Victim Assistance 

If a victim desires a serious response by the local authorities, s/he must be prepared to devote time and effort to wade through local bureaucracy. If a visitor is on a schedule that precludes this time, it should be assumed that there will be no legal or law enforcement resolution of the incident.

Call the U.S. Embassy at: 021-200-3300 (normal working hours) or 021-200-3433 (after hours and weekends.

Local police phone numbers are:
Auto Accidents: 021-9545
Police: 112
Traffic Police: 021- 9544 / 021-323-3030
Any emergency: 112

Medical Emergencies

Ambulances: State Ambulance (Tel: 112); Sanador Ambulance (call center 021-9699); or Bio-Medica Ambulance (Tel: 0788-246-004)

Contact Information for Local Hospitals and Clinics

Emergency Hospitals:
Floreasca Emergency Hospital
8 Calea Floreasca Street, sector 1
Tel: 021-599-2300/2257 

Emergency Hospital for Children:
"Grigore Alexandrescu"
30-32 Iancu de Hunedoara Street, sector 1
Tel: 021-316-9366/9365

Private Clinics: 
Sanador Hospital
9 Sevastopol Street, sector 1
Call Center 021-9699

Reteaua Privata de Sanatate “Regina Maria”
Many locations (clinics and hospitals)
Call Center 021-9268

Biomedica Clinic
111-113 Floreasca street, sector 1
Tel: 021-311-7793/7794

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

Air Ambulance
SOS Geneva
Tel: 0041-22-785-6464

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance 

H1N1 flu virus has been identified in Romania. Visitors are advised to avoid areas identified by the government as being affected by this flu. An EU-approved H1N1 vaccination is available in Romania. Embassy Bucharest reminds all visitors coming to take all suggested precautions which may be found at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html. For additional information on vaccines and health guidance, please visit the CDC at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/romania?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001. 

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Scams

Travelers should be aware of scams involving individuals posing as plainclothes police officers; approaches of “quick friendship” at train/subway stations; and pickpocketing in crowded areas. 

Visitors should be aware that money exchange schemes are commonplace, and some of these scams have become rather sophisticated, involving individuals posing as plain clothes "policemen" who approach the potential victim, flash a "badge" or other official-looking document, and accuse the victim of changing money illegally. Once approached, the victim is normally asked to prove that s/he did not change money illegally and is demanded to show the "policemen" his/her money or wallet. In many of these cases, the thieves succeed in obtaining money, passports, and cell phones carried by the victims. If approached by someone who offers to change money on the street or by someone who accuses you of changing money illegally, you should continue walking. There are other variations to this scam; sometimes the individuals pose as “militia” and request passports for an “immigration inspection.” The bottom line is that legitimate plainclothes police officers do not ask travelers to present identification. If presented with a situation like this, the visitor should insist on the presence of a uniformed police officer.

Extreme care should be taken when patronizing “night clubs,” which can charge exorbitant prices and are relentless in pursuing payment.

Exercise caution when traveling to Romania to meet individuals known only through contact over the Internet.

Situational Awareness Best Practices 

When dining in restaurants, visitors should not hang handbags or suit coats on the backs of chairs. Wallets and other valuables can/will be stolen if caution is not exercised.

If you are considering a trip via train in the near future:
Do not travel alone if you can avoid it and especially on an “overnight train.” Every incident reported to the Embassy has involved a lone traveler. If you are traveling with a small group on the overnight train, RSO suggests that you sleep in shifts. This will allow you to protect your belongings.
Do not leave your personal property unattended while you use the restroom or visit another railcar. The majority of the thefts reported to RSO involve this scenario. Laptops, cell phones, iPods, wallets, and purses are the favorites. 
Avoid spending a great deal of time at the train station – particularly late at night. Travelers have reported approaches of “quick friendship,” pickpocketing in crowded terminals, aggressive panhandlers, and encounters with inebriated and emotionally disturbed individuals. 
If you are approached by someone claiming to represent the rail company and there is a dispute about your ticket DO NOT relocate to the crew coach to resolve the disagreement. 
Your accommodation and class of service can make a difference. We strongly urge you to pay a little extra for the roomier first class seating options, which afford more privacy. Comfort and privacy decrease with lower classes of service. 

Visitors should exercise care and rely on the recommendations of hotels and dining establishments when selecting taxis. Dishonest cab drivers have been known to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation 

The United States Embassy
4-6, Dr. Liviu Librescu Blvd.,
District 1, Bucharest
015118 Romania

Embassy Contact Numbers

Regional Security Officer: 021 200 3450 (milesba@state.gov)
Embassy operator: X 3300
Medical Unit: X 3445
Consular Affairs (American Citizen Services): X 3535
Political/Economic Section: X 3325 / 3424
Post One (during and after business hours): X 3433
Website: http://romania.usembassy.gov/

OSAC Country Council Information

The Embassy has established a Country Council. Please send inquiries to RSO Bryce Miles at milesba@state.gov or call 021-200-3450. To reach the OSAC Europe team, please email OSACEUR@state.gov.