Couple Faces Up To Six Years In Jail For Stealing Sand From Italian Beach

Is Arutas beach, Sinis Peninsula, Sardinia

Is Arutas beach, Sinis Peninsula, Sardinia

A French couple is facing up to six years in jail after Italian authorities accused them of stealing sand from the picturesque beaches of Sardinia. The couple told authorities they did not realize they had broken the law by filling plastic bottles with the white sand.

Officials noticed the stolen sand in the couple's car during a routine check while they were waiting for a ferry. They discovered 14 bottles that were filled with 88 pounds of sand. The couple was charged with aggravated theft and faces a fine of $3,300 and up to six years behind bars. Officials do not believe the couple's claim they were unaware of the law, pointing out various signs posted in multiple languages that advise tourists the sand must stay on the beach.

Local police say that it is common for tourists to take home some sand or seashells. While most people just take a small amount to remember their trip, some people take more so they can illegally sell it online. Most people are nabbed at the airport and are forced to hand over the stolen sand, which is returned to the beach.

"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," a police officer told CNN.

Photo: Getty Images