BULGARIA DREAM AREA CONFERENCE 2002

Bulgaria - US Consular Information Sheet

Crime Information
Petty street crime, much of which is directed against foreigners or others who appear to have money, continues to be a problem. Pick-pocketing and purse snatching are frequent occurrences, especially in crowded markets and on shopping streets. Con artists operate on public transportation and in bus and train stations. Travelers should be suspicious of "instant friends," and they should ask persons claiming to be government officials to show identification. There have been numerous incidents in which tourists have accepted offers of coffee or alcoholic beverages from "friendly people" met by chance at the airport, bus stations, hotels or train stations, and they have been drugged or assaulted and robbed. Travelers should be wary of unfamiliar individuals who encourage them to drink or eat products that may be tainted with strong tranquilizers (such as valium) that can lead rapidly to unconsciousness.
Taxi drivers at Sofia Airport often overcharge unwary travelers. Travelers who pre-negotiate a fare may avoid excessive payment. Taxi meters are frequently rigged to accrue charges faster that normal. Because incidents of pilferage of checked baggage at Sofia Airport are common, travelers should not include items of value in checked luggage. Automobile theft is also a frequent problem, and four-wheel drive vehicles and late model European sedans are the most popular targets. Very few vehicles are recovered. Thieves also sometimes smash vehicle windows to steal valuables left in sight. Break-ins at residential apartments occur frequently. Persons who plan to reside in Bulgaria on a long-term basis should take measures to protect their dwellings. Long term residents should consider installation of window grills, steel doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system that alerts an armed response team. Potential travelers should also be cautious about making credit card charges over the Internet because recent experience has shown that some offers come from scam artists posing as legitimate businesses. Travelers should also be careful about making credit card payments to Bulgarian tour operators over the Internet before coming to Bulgaria because some entities listed there do not actually exist.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. After a passport has been replaced, travelers must inform the passport office for foreigners at the local police station in order to be able to leave the country. The Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, and via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.