So many pebbles have been taken over the years from Crackington Haven, near Bude, in Cornwall, which is only 100 yards wide, that a pebble ridge has all but disappeared and cliff erosion has occurred.
Tony Hurr, chairman of St Genny's parish council, which owns the beach, said the council was cracking down on pebble theft this year. "We will pursue all who insist on taking pebbles," he said, adding that one possible prosecution was under way. He added that a local geologist had written a leaflet about the problem. The leaflet was being distributed in the area and signs warning people against taking stones had been put up.
The council first became concerned in the Seventies, but over the past 10 years an increasing amount of pebbles had been removed by people encouraged by gardening magazines and television programmes to use them as decoration. Mr Hurr said people had been taking pebbles away by the bagful and bucketload.
"Most people put them back when asked to, but there have been a few very confrontational situations," Mr Hurr said.
Earlier this year the National Trust warned that people who took huge Ice Age boulders from a beach in west Cornwall would be prosecuted.
The trust said that there had been a visible reduction in the number of boulders, part of a rare geological formation, at Porth Nanven Cove, near St Just.Reuse content