Dozens of tourists fined for stealing sand, shells and rocks from Sardinian beaches | World news
More than 40 tourists have been fined for attempting to steal sand, shells and rocks from Sardinian beaches.
The 41 people have all been arrested in ports and airports in recent days trying to leave the island with a total of 100 kg of beach loot.
La Guardia di Finanza said dozens of listings were later found online for sand, pebbles, seashells and minerals stolen from the area.
Italian media said customs police imposed fines of up to € 3,000 (£ 2,577) on each person, while sand, shells and rocks were returned to the beach where possible .
The trade in sand, pebbles and seashells was made illegal in Sardinia in 2017 and, although the fines appear severe, they are an effort to tackle a long-term problem.
For years Sardinia has faced tourists who steal sand and seashells as souvenirs or as items to sell online.
Police monitor ports and airports, using X-rays to spot bottled sand in travelers’ luggage during customs checks.
In October last year, four people – two Polish, one Italian and one French – were arrested with a total of 253 seashells, 12 pebbles and 700g of sand.
In 2019, two French tourists were fished with 40kg of sand from Chia beach in the south of the island.
They had crammed it into 14 plastic bottles which were found in the trunk of their car as they made their way to a ferry back to France.
In 2018, an Italian resident in the UK was fined for stealing sand from a beach near the northern town of Olbia.
And during the summer of 2017, more than a ton of sand was found in the luggage of tourists at Cagliari airport, according to reports.
A Facebook page called Sardinia Is Being Stolen And Plundered has documented the problem for years.
Group administrators recently told their 37,000 subscribers that reports of selling sand, fossils and archaeological finds on the Web are “on the rise.”