‘Keep it in your heart’: You could be arrested for taking sand from the beach on this Italian island

Sardinia is known for its pristine white beaches. But authorities are urging tourists to leave sand and pebbles where they are.
Sardinia is known for its pristine white beaches. But authorities are urging tourists to leave sand and pebbles where they are. Copyright canva
By Charlotte Elton
Share this article
Share this articleClose Button

A Frenchman has been arrested after stealing 41kg of pebbles from beach in Sardinia

A man has been arrested after stealing a huge amount of pebbles from a protected Sardinian beach.


It’s normal to go home from holiday with a souvenir. But stick to a magnet or a snow globe - and steer clear of precious stones.

A French man faces a fine of up to €3,000 after police found 41 kilograms of pebbles and stones from pristine Lampianu beach in the boot of his car.

He was intercepted while trying to board a ferry from Porto Torres to the French Port of Nice.

Sardinia’s white sand beaches are world-famous - but taking, holding or selling sand, pebbles, stones or shells from the coast or sea is punishable by a fine up to 3,000 euros.

Tourists can even face jail time if they are convicted on the charge of theft with the aggravating circumstance of having stolen an asset of public utility.

In 2019, a French couple were caught with 14 plastic bottles full of sand, weighing 40kg.

What is the environmental impact of stealing sand and pebbles from beaches?

It might seem like a small problem, but stealing sand and pebbles from beaches can have serious ecological consequences.

After the 2019 arrest, Sardinian environmental scientist Pierluigi Cocco explained these to the BBC.

“Only a fraction of the tourists visiting Sardinia spend their time digging up to 40kg of sand each,” he said.

“But if you multiply half that amount times 5 per cent of the one million tourists per year, in a few years that would contribute significantly to the reduction of beaches.”

In 2021, the campaigning group ‘Sardinia robbed and plundered’ (‘Sardegna rubata e depredata’) estimated that at least six tonnes of sand had been taken from the island’s beaches by mid-August.


“Most people don’t really have a motive,” a Sardinia Robbed and Plundered campaigner wrote on its Facebook page.

“Perhaps to arouse the envy of friends and relatives, to relive the emotion of the holiday in their drawing room, or even to decorate an aquarium.”

“(Tourists are likely) trying desperately, but unfortunately in vain, to take a piece of it away [in] their hands, instead of keeping memories in memory and heart.”

Share this article

You might also like