Tourist Arrested for Trying To Smuggle 90 Pounds of Pebbles

Tourist Arrested for Smuggling 90 Pounds of Pebbles

( – Millions of people visit the Mediterranean island of Sardinia each year. Its beaches are a major draw because of the white sand and crystal blue waters. However, Italian authorities prohibit visitors from taking any souvenirs directly from the shores. One French man missed the memo and is paying the price.

Italian customs agents got quite the surprise when they inspected a vehicle heading toward Nice from Porto Torres. The French man had tried to smuggle 90 pounds of pebbles that he obtained from Lampianu beach. Authorities took him into custody after discovering the haul in his trunk.

A 2017 law prohibits tourists from collecting any amount of sand or rocks from the island nation’s beaches because it contributes to erosion. Sardinian environmental scientist According to Newsweek, Pierluigi Cocco previously told The BBC that if even 5% of visitors pilfered sand or pebbles from its shores, it “would contribute significantly to the reduction of beaches — the main reason why tourists are attracted” to the island.

In the 1990s, the nation had to close down the Spiaggia Rosa beach due to massive looting. Yet people take the sand and rocks from the shores motivated by a reason. There’s apparently a very high online demand for the souvenirs. People collect and sell the material to sand collectors around the world. But if the authorities catch them, those souvenirs may come at a hefty price. The fines levied for stealing off Sardinia’s shores range from $544 to more than $3,000. People could even face jail time if they violate the law.

Carlo Lazzari, commander of the Olbia financial police, said the goal isn’t to “terrorize tourists,” but rather to “protect [Sardinia’s] environment.” Strict enforcement of the law is how they do that and ensure that the beaches will be around for tourists to enjoy in the future, according to Newsweek.

It’s unclear what penalties the French man may face for attempting to smuggle the rocks out of the country.

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