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Island Fights Tourists Trying to Steal Tons of Sand

Sardinia will fine you up to $3.4K if you take sand, rocks, or shells from its beaches
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2018 9:01 AM CDT
The sand on Sardinia looks lovely, but leave it where it is.   (Getty Images/zakaz86)

(Newser) – Do the crime, pay the fine—and on the island of Sardinia, the fine for collecting sand as a souvenir can be quite steep. The Telegraph reports a 40-year-old British tourist now has to fork over nearly $1,200 after local police say he was found with a plastic bottle filled with sand from a beach in Olbia, and he actually got off lucky: Fines for taking sand, rocks, or shells from Sardinian shores can run nearly three times as high as that, up to around $3,400. In 2017, officials confiscated more than 5 tons of sand that tourists tried to sneak off the Italian island. CNN notes these so-called sand thieves are usually busted at the airport when scanners or customs officials come across their contraband.

Taking the sand can help wreck Sardinia's shoreline, which is why hard-core efforts are being made to keep the sand where it belongs. Signs are posted along most beaches, and the German Embassy in Rome has issued a warning to tourists, explaining the "significant damage" lifting sand can cause. There's even a local Facebook page titled "Sardinia, Robbed and Plundered," designed to educate the public against sand swiping. "Leave the sand where it should be," the German Embassy implores. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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