<p>Cala Luna beach in Sardinia, Italy</p>

Cala Luna beach in Sardinia, Italy

Tourists steal ‘six tonnes’ of sand from Sardinia’s beaches

Dozens of tourists face fines of up to €3,000 for swiping sand and shells from the Italian island

Lucy Thackray
Friday 20 August 2021 14:28
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Six tonnes of sand have been stolen from Sardinia’s beaches by holidaymakers this year, say local campaigners.

A Facebook group of activists, with a name translating to ‘Sardinia Robbed and Plundered’, estimated the amount of sand taken during 2021 so far, following a decline in the amount of sand smuggled out during the pandemic.

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

Yet the crime wave continues, with dozens of tourists facing fines of up to €3,000 for stealing sand and shells from the Italian island.

In June, local authorities reported that 41 individuals - in separate incidents - were being investigated for the theft of about 100kg (220lb) of sand in total.

Local government has produced a video to deter travellers from taking anything from the island’s beaches, with the slogan: “Sardinia: carry it in your heart, but only in your heart.”

But why is Sardinian sand such hot property for light-fingered tourists?

“Most people don’t really have a motive,” a campaigner wrote on its Facebook page. “Perhaps to arouse the envy of friends and relatives, to relive the emotion of the holiday in their drawing room, or even to decorate an aquarium.”

Tourists are likely “trying desperately, but unfortunately in vain, to take a piece of it away [in] their hands, instead of keeping memories in memory and heart,” speculated the social media user.

One big draw for sand smugglers is the pink sand found on the island of Budelli.

Visitors have been banned from Budelli’s pink beach since 1994, when it became part of a national park.

But the group’s campaigners have found online photos of bags of the pink sand for sale, with sellers marketing it as “very difficult to find”.

In September, a French tourist was fined €1,000 when airport security found 2kg of sand in a plastic bottle in his luggage.

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