French couple face six years in jail for stealing sand from Sardinian beach

The bottles of sand weighed in at 40kg.

A French couple are facing up to six years in prison after attempting to steal more than 40kg of sand from a Sardinian beach, the Mail Online reports.

The pair were caught with bottles of the substance, allegedly plundered from a beach in the south of the island, which they claim they had taken as souvenirs.

Police, who are enforcing a strict set of laws which were brought in two years ago, claim the tourists were planning to load the bottles on to a SUV truck and smuggle them by ferry back to Toulon.

Last August, a tourist from the UK, was fined roughly €900 after he was discovered stealing sand from a beach near the Northern city of Olbia.

And Sardinian customs claim that one year more than five tons of sand was intercepted.

Such thefts can incur fines anywhere between €500 and €3,000 if they involve sand, pebbles or shells. The couple claim to have been unaware of the strict laws.

One of the local administrators of a Facebook page called 'Sardegna Rubata e Depredata' - Sardiania, robbed and plundered - which campaigns against people stealing sand told CNN Travel the website was to raise public awareness of the worrying trend.

"During the last 20 years of activity we have seized tens and tens of tons of material [...] Every year we take care to bring everything back to the places of origin at the end of the summer season.

"Sardinia could easily live only for tourism but unfortunately the regional politicians are not in the least able to protect and enhance the natural resources of Sardinia," the administrator said.

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"Taking away even a single bottle of sand in memory of the holidays makes the patient and long work of nature in vain," adds the administrator.

"So if you come on holiday in Sardinia remember to take photos, observe the magnificent nature, listen to the sounds, smell the scents of nature, keep the memories in your mind but do not take away because it does not belong to you but belongs to everyone."

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