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Crime & Safety
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Generally, Bulgaria is a peaceful country without troubles. Bulgarian people are friendly, warm and hospitable. (for more information about Bulgarian people, click here) Even the general crimes are not so many compared to the countries of Western Europe.

One of the most frequent crimes in Bulgaria is pick-pocketing and purse-snatching. Pickpockets are most active in the central parts of big cities (like in every country) and in areas frequently visited by tourists - crowded markets, shopping streets, public transport, bus and train stations. Keep your bag fastened and try to avoid using a rucksack. Do not leave your luggage without an eye on. Keep your valuable possessings and documents in the hotel safe.

There is a large number of beggars on Sofia's streets, mainly gipsies. Avoid them getting too close to you. Most of them are highly skilled. They have been taught to be good pickpockets from their birth. There is even a practice in gipsy families to sell their children if they are good pickpockets. They sell it to other gipsies who organize the criminal activity in the larger towns. Capable pickpockets are highly esteemed. So – stay away from people who look like gipsies.

Another frquent problem is car theft. Sometimes the thieves also smash vehicle windows to steal whatever they find valuable left inside. This happens often mainly to cars with foreign numbers. If you enter the country with your car with foreign registration – you must always keep an eye on it – never leave it on the street – better do so in the special parking places where there is security. Sometimes the thieves mark down the car from its very entering into the country. When the owner leaves it and enters a bank or a shop, they steal it. After that they usually find a way to contact him and offer him a price for returning the car. If the victim really needs that car he pays the money. This was a very common practice in the early years after the falling of communism. In the last years a lot has been done for managing this problem and now this happens very rarely.

If you are the victim of a crime while in Bulgaria report immediately to the local police and contact your embassy or consulate for assistance.

Keep in mind that while in Bulgaria the foreign visitor is subject to the country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in your own country and the penalties can be more severe. An interesting example for this may be the recent verdict against a fan of the English football club Liverpool. The crime happened in Varna, where the fan was having fun with friends preparing for the Champions League final 2005 in Istanbul. He got drunk and tried to kill the barman with a stone in the head. This is the official version. The barman was severely wounded and hardly survived. The Englishman was convict of his crime and had to spend the sentence in Bulgarian prison. After a lot of diplomatic activities from both sides he was allowed to return to his country and spent the remaining of the sentence there.

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