A French tourist has been ordered to pay a fine of €1,000 ($1,200) after attempting to fly out the Italian island of Sardinia with more than four pounds of the beach sand.
The island’s sand is protected with tourists liable for jail time if they’re caught trying to take it from the white beaches.
The unnamed man was apprehended at Cagliari Elmas Airport on September 1 after he was found in possession of a bottle containing 4.4 pounds of sand.
“The bottle was confiscated and is in now in our operating room where we hold these confiscated items. At the end of the year we usually have many bottles of sand accumulated,” A spokesman for the island’s Forest Rangers told CNN.
In 2017, a regional law made it illegal to take sand from Sardinia’s beaches.
Fines range between €500 and €3,000 ($600-$3,550), depending on the quantity taken and where it was removed from, according to the spokesman.
The regulations were introduced, he said, because the incidents of sand theft were becoming “frequent and increasingly problematic.”
Beaches with “incredible” colored, pink or very white sand are especially targeted, the spokesman told CNN. “Last year we found a website that was selling our sand as souvenirs. It’s become a very known phenomenon here in Europe.”
Controls have become “much more rigorous” over the past three years, he said, adding: “The sanctions are much more serious, we work with the police and they alert us.”
Members of the public also contact the authorities if they see tourists plundering the sand.
It was reported that the police seized 88 pounds of sand from a French couple visiting the island last year. In 2018, a British resident was fined more than $1,000 after authorities discovered sand taken from a beach near the northern city of Olbia.