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‘Keep it in your heart’: You could be arrested for taking sand from the beach on this Italian island

‘Keep it in your heart’: You could be arrested for taking sand from the beach on this Italian island

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Stealing sand from Sardinia’s beaches could cost you up to €3,000 in fines.


Several tourists have already been caught smuggling sand, stones and archaeological remains from the Italian island of Sardinia this year. 

Authorities rumbled a French visitor attempting to take home stalagmites and shells and a German family with a kilo of stones from the seabed.

For years, holidaymakers have been pillaging the natural treasures of Sardinia’s beaches despite facing fines. 

It’s normal to go home from holiday with a souvenir. But stick to a magnet or a snow globe.

Sardinia’s white sand beaches are world-famous – but taking, holding or selling sand, pebbles, stones or shells from the coast or sea is punishable by a fine of up to €3,000.

Tourists can even face jail time if they are convicted on the charge of theft with the aggravating circumstance of having stolen an asset of public utility.

Last year, a Frenchman was arrested after police found 41 kilograms of pebbles and stones from pristine Lampianu beach in the boot of his car.

What is the environmental impact of stealing sand and pebbles from beaches?

It might seem like a small problem, but stealing sand and pebbles from beaches can have serious ecological consequences.

After a French couple was arrested in 2019 for smuggling 14 plastic bottles full of sand from the island, Sardinian environmental scientist Pierluigi Cocco explained these to the BBC.

“Only a fraction of the tourists visiting Sardinia spend their time digging up to 40kg of sand each,” he said.

“But if you multiply half that amount times 5 per cent of the one million tourists per year, in a few years that would contribute significantly to the reduction of beaches.”

In 2021, the campaigning group ‘Sardinia robbed and plundered’ (‘Sardegna rubata e depredata’) estimated that at least six tonnes of sand had been taken from the island’s beaches by mid-August.

“Most people don’t really have a motive,” a Sardinia Robbed and Plundered campaigner wrote on its Facebook page.

“Perhaps to arouse the envy of friends and relatives, to relive the emotion of the holiday in their drawing room, or even to decorate an aquarium.”

“(Tourists are likely) trying desperately, but unfortunately in vain, to take a piece of it away [in] their hands, instead of keeping memories in memory and heart.”

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Articles: 2027

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