Frenchman caught taking 41kg of stones from Sardinian beach

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Frenchman caught taking 41kg of stones from Sardinian beach
The theft of sand from Sardinia's beaches has become a major problem for the island's authorities. Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP.

A French visitor was the latest to be caught trying to make off with a large quantity of pebbles from a protected Sardinian beach, customs officers said on Tuesday.


The man was caught trying to leave the island with 41 kilograms of pebbles and stones taken illegally from a beach, Italian customs authorities said on Tuesday.

He risks a fine of up to €3,000 after being found with the stash while trying to board a ferry from Porto Torres to the French port of Nice, the customs agency said.

"Checks revealed that in the boot of his car he had 41kg of pebbles and stones taken from the Lampianu beach," which have now been seized and will be relocated, the agency said.

READ ALSO: Theft of sand from Sardinia’s beaches on the rise again - despite fines of up to €3,000

Sardinia is known for its pristine white sand beaches - sand so prized that regional authorities passed a law in 2017 to prevent tourists taking it home with them.

Taking, holding or selling sand, pebbles, stones or shells from Sardinia's coast or sea without permission is punishable by a fine between 500 and 3,000 euros.

But that hasn't stopped unscrupulous tourists from trying to sneak some of the coveted stuff home in their luggage in the years since the law was passed.

In 2019, a French couple was arrested after they were found with 40kg of Sardinian sand stashed in their car as they prepared to board a ferry from Porto Torres to Toulon.

They claimed they were taking it home as a "souvenir" and were unaware they'd committed a crime.

The island's residents have long complained that visitors help themselves to handfuls of the fine white sand on the island's north-east coast - a favourite with holiday-makers - resulting in the loss of tonnes of the precious natural resource each year.

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


Occasionally, former beach thieves have a change of heart and return the sand - sometimes decades later.

READ ALSO: Sand stolen by tourists returned to Sardinian beaches

In 2016, an Italian woman returned sand she had taken from the tiny island of Budelli off Sardinia 29 years before, after she heard that a group of schoolchildren were fundraising to buy the island and keep it in public hands.

"It’s never too late to realize the importance of your own gestures for the maintenance of natural balance in an area," Giuseppe Bonanno, the former president of the national park where the island sits, said at the time.



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