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Why It's Illegal to Take Sand From Some Beaches

Aug. 20, 2019
3 min read
Why It's Illegal to Take Sand From Some Beaches
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Put down that — sand?

Yes, we know you want to bring it home with you and place it in a decorative jar or vase in your living room to show off to friends and family members when they ask about your trip to Hawaii. But trust us: It's not worth the trouble. In fact, stealing sand from the beach might actually do you (and the environment) a lot more harm than good.

On Monday, Aug. 19, CNN reported that a French couple attempted to nab 14 plastic bottles containing approximately 88 pounds of white sand from a beach in Sardinia. They were arrested, and could face up to six years in prison and a fine of up to €3,000 ($3,300) for their crime. The stolen stash was found by Italian police during a routine check on cars waiting to board a ferry to Toulon, in southern France.

In court, the couple claimed they didn't realize taking sand from the beaches was against the law. However, police officers pointed out that there are multiple signs in a variety of languages on the beach that explicitly say such an act is, in fact, illegal. "The people of Sardinia are very angry with tourists that steal shells and sand, because it's a theft [from] future generations that also puts at risk a delicate environment," an Italian officer told CNN.

Still, theft of the white sand and rocks from the beaches in Sardinia is pretty common, although most instances are discovered in the airport at security checkpoints.

Ninety pounds of sand might sound like an unreasonably heavy souvenir, but some cases of sand theft are connected to a growing black market, where people trade their stolen granules on the internet. In 2017, the New York Post reported that eBay removed several listings of sand said to be lifted from Hawaiian beaches. And that's a very risky endeavor, as taking sand from any beach in Hawaii is punishable by fines upwards of $100,000. This includes Papakolea Beach, also known as Green Sands Beach, and Punalu’u Beach, which is famous for its black volcanic sands.

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This issue stretches far beyond the beaches of Italy and Hawaii. Lalaria Beach, on the Greek island of Skiathos, for example, faced a pebble pinching issue back in 2018, that caused local law enforcement to enact a fine of between $468 and $1,170 for anyone caught swiping Lalaria’s signature white stones for souvenirs. The Cultural Association and Skiathos Port Authority also launched a campaign of signs urging visitors to “take a picture, not a pebble.”"[But] I want some black sand!" you might be yelling, just like this person on the Maui TripAdvisor forum. And why shouldn't you? It does sound like the perfect (cheap) souvenir. Well, according to a report by Business Insider in 2018, the world is actually running out of sand. As one of the most universally-used natural resources, the grainy substance that lines our beaches is actually in very high demand. As a planet, we go through 50 billion tons of the stuff annually — twice the amount produced by every river in the world. If consumption continues at the same rate, 67% of Southern California beaches will be totally gone by 2100.So, sorry. Try a refrigerator magnet instead.

Featured image by Getty Images

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023