A French couple who lifted sand from a Sardinian beach are facing a lengthy jail term. The pair said they wanted the 40 kg of sand as a "souvenir" and didn’t know they were breaking the law.
Some visitors pack plastic bottles and bags with different coloured sand from Sardinia’s famous beaches. Sardinia is famous for its silky white sand which is classed as a “public good”. Removal is strictly forbidden.
The couple could be facing a sentence of between one and six years for theft with the aggravating circumstance of having stolen an asset of public utility.
A 2017 law renders illegal any trade in sand, pebbles and shells, which is punishable with fines of up to €3,000.
The sand was found stuffed into 14 plastic bottles in the boot of the couple’s SUV, at the famous Chia beach in the south of the island. The pair were about to board a ferry to France when they were stopped by police. Customs officials at Sardinia’s airports check luggage for stashes of sand.