A tourist has been slapped with a heavy fine after trying to steal sand from one of Italy’s most prized beaches.
The French holidaymaker was sprung trying to fly with glass bottles full of Sardinia’s famed sand.
The island’s postcard-perfect pink and white sands are protected and tourists can face fines and even jail time for nicking it from the beautyspot’s beaches.
The law was introduced three years ago after locals grew sick of tourists attempting to take home sand as a souvenir.
Authorities even found hawkers trying to sell the sand online.
The tourist, who has not been named, was apprehended at Cagliari Elmas Airport on September 1 after he was found carrying a bottle containing 4.4lbs of sand, according to reports
A spokesman for Sardinia’s Forest Rangers told CNN: “The bottle was confiscated and is in now in our operating room where we hold these confiscated items. At the end of the year we usually have many bottles of sand accumulated.”
Authorities were contending with increasingly frequent cases of sand theft, before a law change in 2017 to penalise culprits.
Now, tourists who try to sneak away Sardinia’s sand face fines ranging from between €500 (£450) and €3,000 (£2,700), depending on the amount taken and where it was removed from, according to the Forest Rangers spokesman.
In 2018, a Brit was fined around £900 when authorities discovered they had taken sand taken from a beach near the city of Olbia.
And last year, police reportedly seized 88lbs of sand from a French couple visiting Sardinia.
The island’s beaches of coloured, pink or very white sand are most frequently targeted by thieves, the spokesman said.
“Last year we found a website that was selling our sand as souvenirs. It’s become a very known phenomenon here in Europe,” he told CNN.