Is Romania Safe? How to Avoid Crime and Scams

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Crimes against tourists is a problem in Romania, from thieves to scammers, this is what you need to know before you go.

Bucharest historical center with Calea Victoriei boulevard, Romania Photo © Getty Images/Alexander Spatari

Crime on transport and throughout Romania's major cities is common, and travelers should be on the lookout for trouble.

These are the things you need to know to stay safe and trouble free in Romania.

Racial prejudice in Romania

Romanians are not to be confused with the Romani people – also referred to as Roma or gypsies. The Roma are believed to have originated in Northern India some 1,000 years ago, first spreading through the Byzantine area and subsequently throughout Europe and Northern Africa.

Racial prejudice, especially against those thought to be Roma ("gypsies") does occur in Romania. But hate crimes are rare. As a visitor, be careful and aware of your surroundings, and you should remain safe. It doesn't matter who is approaching you, just keep an eye on your pocket and bags.

Crime in Romania

Although most crimes in Romania are non-violent and non-confrontational, injuries or harm can occur here. Travelers are advised to avoid unfamiliar places, especially if you are unaccompanied at night or in areas where alcohol consumption is high.

Homosexuality is not illegal, however discrimination is still a problem – despite anti-discrimination laws being in place. 

Crimes against travelers – robbery, mugging, pick pocketing and confidence tricks - are an ongoing problem. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets, often including children, operate in train stations and subways, on trains and on buses in all the major cities. Thefts and assaults have occurred in overnight trains, including thefts from lone passengers in closed compartments. If possible, travel in groups or accompanied by a savvy, trustworthy local.

Watches and jewelry are snatched from around the neck and wrist. Pockets or bags are expertly slit with a sharp knife and the unsuspecting tourist remains unaware of the theft until much later.

Avoid dense crowds and if possible, keep your back to the wall. Don't leave personal belongings unattended and, if leaving them in a parked car, stow them securely and out of sight.

Should you be prepared to pay with cash or cards in Romania?

Romania is a cash economy. There are a number of ATMs available in major cities, and they will accept international credit and debit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Be aware that sophisticated identity theft rings target ATMs in Romania. Always use ATMs located within banks and only after checking for any evidence of tampering prior to using them.

Credit card fraud is a serious problem here, and the safest option is to pay with cash where possible. When accessing publicly available internet cafes, sensitive personal information and account passwords may be compromised.

Corruption in Romania

Corruption is still a problem in Romania. However, corruption is illegal. Never bribe traffic officers or police – ever. Most patrol cars are equipped with recording devices and since 2008, people who have attempted to bribe officers have been prosecuted.

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