Tourists in Sardinia Can't Stop Smuggling Pebbles from the Beach

One of them was even arrested and now faces a major fine this week.

The gorgeous island of Sardinia, Italy is having a pebble thief moment.

In the last two days, two different individuals were stopped—and one of them arrested, even—for trying to steal pounds of sand and pebbles from some of the most iconic and world-renowned Italian beaches.

We're not talking about a drizzle of sand, and not even a handful. A small glass, perhaps? Forget it—think bigger, much bigger. Two days ago, a French tourist was arrested in Porto Torres carrying 41 kg (roughly 90 pounds) of pebbles and stones, La Repubblica reports. The Porto Torres authorities, however, are on top of it. Just yesterday, another tourist was stopped at the same location while he was trying to smuggle 7.5 kg (around 16 pounds) of stolen goods from the beach, which included sand, shells, and pebbles, ANSA reports.

In addition to having a passion for what we might only describe as "beachy crimes," the two delinquents share another common trait—thinking that their car would serve as a prime hiding spot while trying to board a ferry. The one carrying the heavier loot was caught hiding it in the trunk of his car as he was trying to ferry off to Nice, France, while the other one had tried to conceal Sardinian sand in bottles located under their seat.

Stealing sand and other natural memorabilia from Sardinian beaches has long been a problem, so much so that a regional law was passed in 2017 stating that those found in possession of illegal natural souvenirs would face fines ranging from €500 to €3,000 (about $542 to $3,253 as of this writing). Transgressors are also liable to face jail time if convicted with the charge of theft with the aggravating circumstances of stealing a public utility asset. The French tourist, in fact, was arrested when caught, and now faces a fine of up to €3,000.

Campaign group Sardegna Rubata e Depredata (which translates to "Sardinia Robbed and Plundered") wishes the same destiny is faced by the "lighter robber." On Facebook, the organization shared the news about the 16-pound loot and, in the caption, it called for a maximum fine order.

In the end, the Sardinian beaches that were robbed of their gorgeous pebbles and sand—namely, the Ezzi Mannu beach and the Lampianu beach—won't be missing a single grain. In both cases, officials seized the stolen goods, and reportedly said that thanks to the help of environmental groups, they will bring the sand, pebbles, and shells back to where they belong.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.