More than 40 tourists are facing thousands in fines for stealing sand from an iconic beach.
Italian authorities have long warned tourists about taking the white sand from the country’s spectacular Sardinian beaches as it is forbidden to remove it.
Police said on Saturday 41 people collectively stole 100kg of sand in separate incidents, BBC reports.
They each now face fines of up to $4700. A law was introduced in 2017 making the theft of sand and shells from the beaches illegal.
Pierluigi Cocco, an environmental scientist and Sardinian resident, told the BBC sand removal threatens the beaches which are the “main reason” tourists flock to Sardinia.
“There are two threats: one is due to erosion, which is partly natural and partly induced by the increasing sea level due to climate change; the second is sand stealing by tourists," he said.
He said people stealing sand could contribute to the "significant reduction" in the size of the beaches.
Two French tourists were also caught stealing 40kg of sand in 2019.
The sand was allegedly placed in 14 plastic bottles and the pair were arrested as they were boarding a ferry for Toulon in France’s south.
People have also been known to bottle the sand to try to sell it online.
Police have promised a crackdown on anyone trying to sell the sand online, Italian newspaper L’Unione Sarda reported.
So far police have issued more than $21,000 in fines for people attempting to steal sand this year.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org