Dozens of people are facing fines of up to €3,000 (£2,580; $3,650) for eliminating shore shells and sand from the Italian island of Sardinia, local media report.
Authorities said on Saturday that 41 individuals were reported to the theft of approximately 100kg (220lb) of items from beaches in separate incidents.
Sardinia’s famed white sand is treasured on the island and it’s strictly prohibited to remove it.
The trade at Sardinian sand, pebbles and shells was made illegal in 2017.
The penalties imposed might appear heavy-handed, but for years islanders have whined about the theft of the natural assets.
Tourists, largely Europeans and including several Italians, bottle the sand to keep as souvenirs or auction it online.
As a part of a continuing investigation, military and customs police in Sardinia have been monitoring airports and harbours, and also searching websites for illegal sales. Tourists Trying to remove bottled sand in their bag have been caught during habits checks using X-rays
Police stated that in recent times they’d discovered dozens of online ads for the sale of items gathered from the Mediterranean island coasts illegally, a few at what they described as”high prices”.
The details of those accused of wrongdoing are reported to the Forestry Corps (federal state authorities ) of Sardinia and face fines beneath the island’s regional legislation.
The police said they had already collected about $13,000 in fines this year, including that the seized items were being returned into the areas where they were obtained.
Pierluigi Cocco, an environmental scientist and resident of the Sardinian capital Cagliari, told the BBC the shores were”the major reason why tourists are attracted to the island of Sardinia”.