It's only natural to bring home a little souvenir from your vacation, especially one that has taken you months to prepare. A French couple also had the same feeling, but their urge backfired on them as they now face six years of jail time for removing sand from their vacation spot.
The couple took a trip to a beach in Sardinia, Italy where people can enjoy clear blue waters and white sand beaches. Sardinia's white sand is protected and tourists who remove it from local beaches will be sanctioned with fines and even jail time. However, the couple said they didn't realize they were committing such a crime, CNN reports.
|Photo Credit: Guardia di Finanza (via CNN Travel)|
Porto Torres police found the sand while making their routine checks on cars waiting to board a ferry bound to Toulon in southern France. Authorities spotted some bottles filled with sand through the window of the car, police told CNN, adding that they arrested couple—a man and woman both in their 40s.
Police said they seized a total of 14 plastic bottles containing about 40 kilograms of white sand.
The couple was charged with aggravated theft in a Sassari court, risking a fine of up to €3,000 ($3,300) and up to six years of imprisonment. An officer said stealing white sand and rocks from the island's beaches was very common and that there is even an illegal market for them on the internet.
|Photo Credit: CNN Travel|
The tourists were unaware of the laws regarding the removal of the sand, police told CNN, although they noted that there were signs posted in Sardinia's beaches written in several languages to inform visitors.
"The people of Sardinia are very angry with tourists that steal shells and sand, because it's a theft (from) future generations that also puts at risk a delicate environment," the officer said.
Those who steal from the Sardinia's beaches are often caught at airports as their bags are searched.