Police return sand to the beach when they catch people stealing it (Image: Facebook)
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Tourists taking mementos from beautiful Sardinian beaches are being fined thousands of pounds.
In the past few days customs officials on the Mediterranean island have handed out 41 fines of up to £2,580 for taking sand, stones and shells, L'Unione Sarda reports.
Had they got away with it, the sticky fingered holiday-makers would have plundered 100kg of items from the beaches.
Removing Sardinia's famed white sand, as well as shells and stones, was made illegal in 2017 in a bid to preserve their natural beauty.
Locals have become particularly enraged by visitors who pocket a bit of the beach and then flog it online.
A Facebook page called Sardinia robbed and plundered highlights the problem and is followed by more than 37,000 people.
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Sardinia is famed for its beautiful beaches
(Image: Getty Images)
Together with the police and military, which guard the borders and monitor unlawful sales online, the group hopes to keep Sardinia's coastline intact.
So far this year police have issued about £11,170 worth of fines.
In three summer months in 2015 alone, as much as five tonnes of sand was seized at Elmas airport, local reports say.
Sand was also seized at the island's other airports in Alghero and Olbia.
Locals are determined to keep them intact
(Image: Getty Images/AWL Images RM)
Photos of two police officers shows them returning seized sand back to the beach.
Pierluigi Cocco, an environmental scientist and resident of the Sardinian capital Cagliari, told the BBC that the beaches were "the main reason why tourists are attracted to the island of Sardinia".
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He urged people not to remove the sand in order to create a "treasured memory", as it could contribute to the reduction of beaches.
The scientist warned that rising sea levels caused by climate change would be more likely to jeopardise the island if the beaches are in a bad way.