Tourist Fined $1,200 After Attempting to Steal Sand From Sardinia Beach

The tourist was caught with more than 4 pounds of sand in his luggage.

A tourist was fined $1,200 after attempting to sneak more than four pounds of sand off the Italian island of Sardinia.

Identified as a male tourist from France, he was caught on Sept. 1 at Cagliari Elmas Airport with a water bottle containing about 4.4 pounds of sand, CNN reported Sunday.

“The bottle was confiscated and is in now in our operating room where we hold these confiscated items,” a spokesperson for Sardinia’s forest rangers told CNN. “At the end of the year we usually have many bottles of sand accumulated."

Tourists have been known to sneak sand off the island — particularly when it’s a unique color like pink or extremely white — and either keep it as a souvenir or attempt to resell it on the internet.

Sardinia’s sand has been federally protected since 2017 and it has been illegal to steal it, with punishments for stealing the sand growing "much more rigorous" over the past three years, the spokesperson said.

Fines for getting caught with stolen sand range from $600 to $3,550 (€500 to €3,000), depending on where it was taken from and how much was taken. Members of the public are encouraged to contact local authorities if they see people taking sand from the beaches.

Sardinia beach
Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images

“These behaviours not only harm the environment but also compromise the maintenance of the coastline for the sustainable development of tourism in Sardinia,” local authorities said in a press release, obtained by The Associated Foreign Press.

This isn't the first time tourists have tried to take some of Sardinia's sand home as a souvenir.

Last year, a couple, also from France, faced six years of prison after attempting to sneak almost 90 pounds of sand off the island in 14 different water bottles. And in 2016, a woman who had stolen pink sand from Budelli, an island off Sardinia, returned the sand to the island after her visiting 29 years earlier, according to The Guardian. “I read in some newspapers and heard on the TV what this sand is and how it is made,” she wrote in an apology letter. “I understood how unique Sardinia is. I felt guilty.”

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at

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