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More than 40 tourists have been fined for trying to steal sand, shells and rocks from the beaches of Sardinia.
41 people have all been stopped at ports and airports in recent days trying to leave the island with a total of 100 kg of beach booty.
The Guardia di Finanza reported that dozens of advertisements of sand, pebbles, shells and minerals stolen from the area were later found on the Internet.
Italian media reported that customs police imposed fines on each person of up to € 3,000 (£ 2,577), and sand, shells and rocks were returned to the beach where possible.
The trade in sand, pebbles and shells in Sardinia was banned in 2017, and while the fines seem high, they represent an attempt to solve a long-term problem.
In Sardinia, for many years now, tourists have been stealing sand and shells as souvenirs or items to sell online.
Police monitor ports and airports using X-rays to detect bottled sand in travelers’ luggage during customs checks.
Last October, four people – two from Poland, one from Italy and one from France – were stopped with a total of 253 shells, 12 pebbles and 700 grams of sand.
In 2019, two French tourists were caught with 40 kg of sand from Chia beach in the south of the island.
They stuffed it into 14 plastic bottles that were found in the trunk of their car as they took the ferry back to France.
In 2018, an Italian resident in the UK was fined for stealing sand from a beach near the northern city of Olbia.
And in the summer of 2017, more than a ton of sand was reportedly found in the luggage of tourists at Cagliari airport.
A Facebook page titled “Sardinia Stolen and Plundered” has been documenting the problem for years.
The group’s administration recently informed its 37,000 followers that reports of sand sales, fossils and archaeological finds are “multiplying” online.
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