Sardinian sand theft leaves dozens facing fines of up to €3,000on June 5, 2021 at 5:31 pm

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

People caught removing sand and shells from the Italian island face fines of up to €3,000.

Mennena Beach, Arzachena, northern Sardinia

image copyrightGetty Images

Dozens of people are facing fines of up to €3,000 (£2,580; $3,650) for removing beach sand and shells from the Italian island of Sardinia, local media report.

Authorities said on Saturday that 41 individuals had been reported for the theft of about 100kg (220lb) of items from beaches in separate incidents.

Sardinia’s famed white sand is treasured on the island and it is strictly forbidden to remove it.

The trade in Sardinian sand, pebbles and shells was made illegal in 2017.

The fines imposed might seem heavy-handed, but for years islanders have complained about the theft of their natural assets.

Tourists, mainly Europeans and including some Italians, bottle the sand to keep as souvenirs or auction it online.

As part of an ongoing investigation, military and customs police in Sardinia have been monitoring airports and harbours, and also searching websites for illegal sales. Tourists attempting to remove bottled sand in their luggage have been caught during customs checks using X-rays.

Police said that in recent days they had discovered dozens of online adverts for the sale of items collected from the Mediterranean island’s coasts illegally, some at what they described as “high prices”.

The details of those accused of wrongdoing have been reported to the Forestry Corps (national state police) of Sardinia and face fines under the island’s regional law.

The police said they had already collected about €13,000 in fines this year, adding that the seized items were being returned to the areas from which they were taken where possible.

Presentational white space

On a Facebook page set up to highlight the issue called “Sardinia robbed and plundered“, users often describe the threat of such thefts as an environmental emergency.

Pierluigi Cocco, an environmental scientist and resident of the Sardinian capital Cagliari, told the BBC that the beaches were “the main reason why tourists are attracted to the island of Sardinia”.

For some people, he said, taking the sand home served as a reminder of a “treasured memory”.

But he said the removal of sand could contribute to the reduction of beaches over the years, which would pose an environmental threat as climate change brings about a rise in sea levels.

Sand confiscated at Sardinia's Alghero airport

image copyrightSardegna rubata e depredata

The island’s Forestry Corps has also said that taking sand could, over time, destroy Sardinia’s beaches, which were created over millions of years.

In 2019, a French couple visiting Sardinia were caught with 40kg of sand in the boot of their SUV.

Police discovered the sand crammed into 14 plastic bottles taken from a beach in Chia, southern Sardinia.

The couple told police they wanted to take it home as a “souvenir” and did not realise they had committed an offence.

Presentational grey line
- Advertisement -

Discover

Sponsor

Latest

HSBC fined £64m for anti-money laundering failingson December 17, 2021 at 8:30 am

The UK financial regulator says the fine was for "unacceptable" risks at the banking giant.Image source, Getty ImagesBanking giant HSBC has been fined £63.9m...

Robbie Williams on Glasto, kids and middle-aged spreadon September 20, 2022 at 11:27 am

The musician looks back at 25 years as a solo artist and ponders what might come next.The musician looks back at 25 years as...

Newtownabbey couple on trial for five-year-old girl’s murderon January 18, 2023 at 5:08 pm

Aleksandra Wahab and her husband Abdul deny a "campaign of child abuse" against Ms Wahab's daughter, Nadia.Image source, PSNIBy Kevin SharkeyBBC News NIA mother...

LIV Golf: Rory McIlroy calls players who switch ‘pretty duplicitous’on June 22, 2022 at 7:43 pm

Rory McIlroy calls players who join LIV Golf "pretty duplicitous" as Brooks Koepka becomes the latest to move to the Saudi Arabian-backed tour.Rory McIlroy...

Lewandowski scores again as Bayern maintain 100% record with win in Kyivon November 23, 2021 at 7:48 pm

Robert Lewandowski scores for the ninth successive Champions League game as Bayern Munich maintain their 100% record in Group E against Dynamo Kyiv.