A French couple was about to board a ferry from Porte Torres to Toulon, France after visiting the Sardinian beach when they were caught by border police. They were accused of stealing 14 plastic bottles of sand from the beach, which weighed 40 kg. The couple can face up to six years after stealing the sand, which was highly protected.
Unilad, a British Internet media company and website owned by LADbible Group, reported that the French couple was not intentionally stealing the island’s white sand. They only wanted to take it home as a “souvenir,” not realizing that they had committed an offense. They claimed to have not known it was forbidden. According to the authorities from the Sardinia beach, it is strictly forbidden to remove its white sand not only because it is considered a public good but also due to the increased theft this year.
|Bottles of stolen sand / Screen shot from: Gruadia Di Finanza via The Independent|
Unfortunately, a lot of tourists are not aware of the seriousness of the offense despite signposts at the beach warning them that taking sand is forbidden. Under a 2017 law, the trade in sand, pebbles, and shells in Sardinia are illegal. Those who are caught can be punished with fines of up to €3,000 (approximately US$3,100). However, the police often struggle to apply the penalties. Antonio Casula, chief of Sardinia’s forest rangers, stated that the incidents were becoming more frequent. “When those responsible for these episodes are foreigners, it is difficult to collect the fine,” he added.
Pierluigi Cocco, a Sardinian resident and environmental scientist, said that taking sand in beaches has environmental impacts. “Sandy beaches are one of the main attractions of 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 explained. Digging sand for souvenirs and other reasons can contribute significantly to the reduction of beaches.
|Police presenting the evidence to the media / Screen shot from: Gruadia Di Finanza via The Independent|