A French couple could face jail time for taking 90 pounds of sand from a popular Italian island as a souvenir

  • Two French citizens could face jail time for trying to take home 90 pounds of sand from beaches on the island of Sardinia as a souvenir. They said they didn’t know it was a crime.
  • The pair collected 14 plastic bottles worth of sand from Chia, a beach located on the southern part of Sardinia, and were caught with the sand while boarding a ferry en route to Toulon, France, BBC reported.
  • The couple was charged with theft under aggravated circumstance, which carries a sentence between one and six years of jail time, according to the report by the Italian newspaper.
  • Sand theft by tourists isn’t a new concept to the popular Italian island. There is even a Facebook page showcasing seized materials from airports, including plastic water bottles filled with sand and boxes of shells and rocks.
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Forget a novelty T-shirt or refrigerator magnet. This French couple wanted something much more memorable from their trip to an island in Italy: 90 pounds of sand.

Two French citizens could face jail time for taking sand from beaches on the Italian island of Sardinia as a “souvenir,” Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported, per CBS News. They said they didn’t know it was a crime.

“Sandy beaches are one of the main attractions of Sardinia,” Pierluigi Cocco, an environmental scientist, told BBC. “There are two threats – one is due to erosion, which is partly natural and partly induced by the increasing sea level due to climate change; the second is sand stealing by tourists.”

According to the report, the pair collected 14 plastic bottles worth of sand from Chia, a beach located on the southern part of the Mediterranean island. They were caught with the sand while boarding a ferry en route to Toulon, France, BBC reported.

Read more: A man who was arrested for taking sand from the Masters recounted how it cost him $20,000 and left him ‘seriously depressed’

The couple was charged with theft under aggravated circumstance, which carries a sentence between one and six years of jail time, according to the report by the Italian newspaper.

Sand theft by tourists isn’t a new concept to the popular Italian island. In 2015, five metric tons of sand were seized at a local airport, BBC reported. There is even a Facebook page showcasing seized materials from airports, including plastic water bottles filled with sand and boxes of shells and rocks.

Under a 2017 law in Sardinia, it is illegal to trade in sand, pebbles, and shells, with fines of up to $3,300, CBS News reported.

“Taking away a little bottle may not seem a big deal,” the island’s forestry corps told BBC. “But if all the millions of tourists did it, tons and tons would disappear every year.”