Great Sardinian sand heist thwarted by customs police

·2 min read
Look at all that sand, just lying there and waiting for someone to steal it.
Look at all that sand, just lying there and waiting for someone to steal it.

In terrible news for dirt-centered criminal organizations all over the world, a ton of tourists have been fined by customs police for attempting to steal a bunch of sand, rocks, and shells from Sardinia, Italy.

The Associated Press reported last Saturday that “customs police on the Mediterranean island issued fines of up to 3,000 euros ($3,600) to 41 people” caught trying to smuggle precious bits o’ beach from Sardinia. Apparently these tourists had tried to make off with 100 kilograms or 220 pounds “of sand, seashells, and beach rocks” before being caught by customs while trying to leave through local air and naval ports.

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In 2017, Sardinia established penalties for sand-snatching in order to protect the island’s beaches from being ruined by tourists who need the threat of some kind of repercussion to keep them from filling their pockets with that sweet, sweet sand. The minimum fee is 500 euros (roughly $600) and, once seized, the sand is “brought back by authorities to the beaches when possible.” (We suggest customs also starts grabbing visitors by their ankles and shaking them upside down to make sure any sand in tourists’ hair is collected and returned as well).

It turns out, maybe in part because of these kind of fines, that there’s a “flourishing, illicit market” for Sardinia’s natural treasures, with sand, rocks, and shells from the island fetching a good enough price online to warrant getting the gang together for one last job.

This phenomenon obviously represents a great new way for the heist movie genre to reinvent itself. For too long, we’ve watched stories about people going to great lengths to steal cash and jewels, but never have we seen a film all about criminal masterminds engineering the removal of big bags of lucrative Mediterranean dirt. If nothing else, large-scale sand thievery is a better premise than Lil Yachty’s UNO-themed take on the genre.

[via Boing Boing]

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