Tourists Facing Jail Time for Allegedly Stealing Sand From Italian Beach

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A French couple faces a potential fine of up to $3,300 and between one to six years of jail time after allegedly removing nearly 90 pounds of sand from a beach on the Italian island of Sardinia while on a recent vacation.

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According to CNN, authorities in Porto Torres discovered 14 plastic bottles filled with the white sand while making routine checks on cars preparing to board a ferry to Toulon in southern France.

The couple, a man and woman in their 40s, was arrested and charged with aggravated theft as the island’s sand is protected by a law that went into effect two years ago.

The couple claims they were unaware of the consequences. However, authorities countered that the island’s beaches have signs informing visitors in several different languages.

“The people of Sardinia are very angry with tourists that steal shells and sand because it’s theft (from) future generations that also puts at risk a delicate environment,” a local police officer told CNN.

It’s not uncommon for authorities to catch sand thieves during bag searches at airports.

According to Local Italy, officials have seized nearly 10 tons of sand stolen from Sardinia in the last 10 years alone.