Tourists face jail after trying to take 40kg of Sardinia’s sand home

A French couple are facing up to six years in prison after being caught leaving the island with 40kg of sand from Sardinia's beaches stashed in their car.

Tourists face jail after trying to take 40kg of Sardinia's sand home
Sardinia'a white sand proves irresistable to many visitors. Photo: Depositphotos

Border agents discovered the sand, from the beach of Chia in southern Sardinia, packed into 14 plastic bottles in the trunk of the couple's SUV yesterday as they were about to board a ferry departing from Porto Torres, Sardinia, to Toulon, France.

The pair reportedly said they wanted to take the sand home as a “souvenir” and did not realise they'd committed a crime.

But Sardinia's famed white sand is a protected resource, and removing it from the island is an offence normally punishable by fines of between €500 to €3,000.

Residents have long complained that visitors help themselves to handfuls of the fine white sand on the island's north-east coast – a favourite with holiday-makers – resulting in the loss of tonnes of the precious natural resource each year.

Authorities at Sardinia's ports and airport carry out systematic bag checks to catch passengers smuggling sand.

Airport agents in Olbia confiscate around 2 tonnes of stolen sand a year, according to local news site Gallura Oggi, while another 500 kilos were seized last summer from ferry passengers at the port of Olbia, where checks are less strict.

Over the past ten years they've seized some 10 tonnes, most of it collected in half-litre bottles, according to the director of a marine reserve off Sardinia's north-eastern coast.

But this is the first reported case of somone attempting to take such a large amount of sand home with them.

Some towns around Sardinia, which is home to some of Italy's most popular beaches, have proposed banning towels and large bags in a bid to stop holidaymakers removing sand from the fragile coastline, whether deliberately or inadvertently.

There's a “growing trade” internationally in sand, pebbles, shells and other objects from Sardinia's beaches, with the stolen items often being sold on Ebay, the Corriere della Sera writes.

Some repentant sand thieves have returned sand and shells to the island recently, where it is replaced onto suitable beaches.



Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Smoke bombs, flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police in Naples' historic centre on Wednesday, as Eintracht Frankfurt fans descended on the city despite a ban.

Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Three German football fans and five Italians were arrested following violence in Naples before and after Napoli’s Champions League win over Eintracht Frankfurt, a local official said on Thursday.

Six police officers were injured in violence on Wednesday evening, according to Alessandro Giuliano, who is responsible for public safety in Naples.

Police were in the process of identifying 470 German fans who arrived in the city, and were scouring images to establish those responsible for the disorder, he told a press conference.

Dozens of supporters of Atalanta also joined forces with supporters of the German side, with whom they are twinned.

The first clashes occurred on Wednesday afternoon in Naples’ historic centre, and continued after the match, an easy 3-0 win for Napoli which took them through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Smoke bombs and flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police, who responded with tear gas. Later, Napoli fans were filmed by Italian media throwing objects at buses carrying Eintracht fans.

Naples mayor Gaetano Manfredi condemned the “unacceptable” violence, while opposition politicians have questioned the government’s handling of the situation, notably by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

Napoli player Juan Jesus said the disorder was “bad for the city, and bad for football”.

“Because people come, then destroy, then leave, it’s not a good thing. It’s not possible to still see this in 2023, we are sorry to see these scenes,” he said.

The German supporters had travelled to southern Italy, with many arriving in Naples by train, even though Eintracht decided against selling tickets for the away section in Naples for the second leg of the last 16 tie.

Eintracht Frankfurt fans clash with anti-riot police after arriving in Naples despite not having tickets for their team’s Champions League decider with Napoli. (Photo by Ciro FUSCO / ANSA / AFP)

The Frankfurt club decided not to take up their allocation after the Naples prefecture decided on Sunday to ban residents of the German city from buying tickets.

A earlier Italian ban on Eintracht fans who lived anywhere in Germany was overturned.

Sunday’s decision came after violence in the first leg that was won 2-0 by Napoli in Frankfurt, which led to nine people being taken into custody.

Eintracht fans have been under close surveillance by European governing body UEFA since the pitch invasion which greeted the club reaching the final of the Europa League, which they won by beating Scottish club Rangers.