Insane World

Italian police seize 100kgs of sand and shells taken from Sardinia’s beaches, fine dozens of tourists

Police in Italy seized more than 100 kilograms of sand, stones and shells stolen from the beaches of Sardinia last year, dishing out fines to dozens of tourists who took them as souvenirs.

The items were returned to the beaches they were taken from earlier this week, the Guardia di Finanza said in a statement.

The Italian island’s idyllic white sand is protected, and tourists face hefty fines and even jail time for removing it from local beaches.

Police said 41 people had been fined in connection with the spate of sand and shell thefts the penalties issued range from USD $600 to $3,650.

The seizures took place ”despite the significant decrease in the number of tourists on the island the past summer season” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the statement said.

Police carried out regular checks on departing travellers at the island’s Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, as well as on various e-commerce sites where the sand was being sold, they added.

In 2017, a regional law was introduced that made it illegal to take sand from Sardinia’s beaches. The regulations were introduced because incidents were becoming more frequent and increasingly problematic.

Beaches with “incredible” colored, pink or very white sand are particularly vulnerable to being targeted, the island’s Forest Rangers had told earlier.

“We found a website that was selling our sand as souvenirs. It’s become a very known phenomenon here in Europe,” he said.

In September 2020, a French tourist was ordered to pay a 1,000 euro fine after attempting to fly out of Sardinia with more than four pounds of local sand in his luggage.

A French couple was threatened with jail time in 2019 after 14 plastic bottles containing around 40 kilograms of white sand were found in their car as they waited to board a ferry.