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By now you should know that buying counterfeit handbags on Italy’s beaches is a big no-no. But you may not realize there’s something else tourists can get in big trouble for taking home from Italy: sand, shells and pebbles.
If a stay in Sardinia is in your future heed this warning: tourists caught taking materials from the island’s pristine beaches could face a fine of up to nearly $4k. One tourist from the UK learned this lesson the hard way when authorities found stolen sand in the visitor’s possession. That free sampling of beach swag ended up costing the man nearly $1,000 in fines.
A local Facebook page whose name translates to “Sardinia, robbed and plundered” documents the widespread theft of sand, seashells and  natural artifacts from the island’s coasts, among the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. “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,” a page administrator and customs inspector told CNN Travel. The German Embassy in Rome has also issued a warning to travelers not to take away sand.
Because of the high volume of tourists, authorities have had to get serious about stopping beach erosion, which over time has caused major damage to the shores. Last summer alone, tourists were caught trying to smuggle out more than a metric ton, or about 2,000 lbs, of the stuff, according to the Guardian.
“Taking away even a single bottle of sand in memory of the holidays makes the patient and long work of nature in vain,” said the FB page administrator. “Keep the memories in your mind but do not take (sand) away because it does not belong to you but belongs to everyone.”
The fines for pocketing beach materials will cost you anywhere from €500 (or $580 USD) to €3,000 ($3,482 USD). Signs have been placed on the beaches warning of the consequences in an effort to protect the resources that make Sardinia one of the world’s most coveted destinations, so tourists have no excuse if caught.
In addition to airport screenings, “vigilantes have also started to patrol some of the island’s beaches,” according to the Guardian.
H/T: CNN
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