Armed bandits hold up Sardinia supermarket

Two men armed with pistols and wearing balaclavas sparked panic among shoppers and staff at a supermarket in Sardinia after storming into the shop armed with pistols and wearing balaclavas.

Armed bandits hold up Sardinia supermarket
The armed bandits held up a supermarket in Sardinia. Photo: GattoNero/Wikicommons

The heist bore all the hallmarks of a classic western film, with one of the men yelling: “Stop. This is a robbery. Nobody move or I’ll shoot” through a loudspeaker while his accomplice held a cashier at gunpoint until they emptied the till.

La Nuova Sardegna, the island’s news website, said the bandits were “quick, determined and bold” in their mission to rob the Nonna Isa di Salvatore Boe supermarket in Su Remediu, Orosei, on Thursday.

The terrifying ordeal lasted a few minutes, with the men fleeing with a €1,000 loot. They escaped in a black Volkswagen Golf, driven by a third accomplice, the newspaper reported.

Witnesses said the ordeal was over so quickly they were unable to recall details that would help identify the robbers, and the shop was not equipped with a video surveillance system either, the newspaper said.

Police have so far been unable to trace the robbers or their vehicle, but believe the heist is linked to a similar incident at the Bottegone supermarket in the town of Siniscola last Saturday, in which two armed robbers fled with about €800. 

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

With the return of mass tourism this summer came a new increase in the theft of sand, pebbles and shells from Sardinia’s protected beaches, environmental campaigners say.

Theft of sand from Sardinia’s beaches on the rise again - despite fines of up to €3,000
A beach in Sardinia's Porto San Paolo. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP

A campaign group called ‘Sardegna rubata e depredata’ (Sardinia robbed and plundered) estimated that at least six tonnes of sand had been taken from the island’s beaches this year alone, mostly by foreign visitors.

In 2017, it became illegal to remove sand, shells and pebbles from Sardinia’s beaches as they were classed as protected resources. People breaking these rules face fines of between €500 and €3,000 – and anyone caught attempting to take larger quantities risks a prison term.

But it seems that many visitors haven’t got the message, as sand theft – and the number of fines being issued to those caught stealing – has risen again this summer with the return of international tourists.

READ ALSO: What is Italy doing to protect its coastline?

In July alone, customs officers at Sardinia’s Alghero airport seized 1.4 kilograms of sand from the island’s beaches during systematic bag searches, the Ansa news agency reported on Tuesday.

Items found in the possession of departing passengers at the airport last month reportedly included numerous plastic bottles filled with sand, 743 sea pebbles, 43 shells and a rock weighing 1.2 kg. 

All passengers caught with the illegal souvenirs were fined, police said.

Campaigners said most culprits are foreign tourists who usually “don’t really have a motive”. 

“Perhaps to arouse the envy of friends and relatives, or to recreate the feeling of the holiday in their living rooms, or even to decorate a home aquarium,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.

“Some do it probably because there is such a sense of discomfort in having to leave the island. They try in a desperate way to take it with them, in their hands, instead of keeping the memories in the heart,” the group said.

In rarer cases, the motive for the theft appears to be profit – with reports in Italian media that bags of precious pink sand from Sardinia’s protected beaches are being sold online to “collectors”.

A couple of French tourists last year were caught trying to board a ferry with 40kg of sand in 14 large plastic bottles in the boot of their car.