A holidaymaker who took stones from a beach in Cornwall was forced to drive hundreds of miles to return them to avoid prosecution.
The man had to return the pebbles to tourist spot Crackington Haven after the local council threatened him with a hefty fine.
St Gennys Parish Council traced him to his home hundreds of miles away and he drove a carrier bag full of stones back to the beach.
He put them back where he found them after being told he faced a fine of up to £1,000.
The council put up four large signs at the beach warning visitors that taking pebbles is prohibited under the 1949 Coastal Protection Act.
The council says the removal of stones leaves the area exposed to erosion.
St Gennys parish clerk Barry Jordan told the BBC the signs were installed at the end of July because of complaints to the council about their removal.
“Those who saw the damage of the floods a few years ago know what water can do, take away the pebbles and the haven would be damaged during every storm,” he said.
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But some locals say the council is being heavy-handed and that the signs are spoiling the beach.
Local artist Jen Dixon said: “It’s a shame that we must have such a problem with stone theft that the beach is now littered with large red and yellow signs threatening prosecution.
“They are so darn ugly on our beautiful beach. It seems very heavy-handed to have that many signs.”
Two of the signs were removed on Tuesday because of complaints, the council said.
Cornwall Council, which owns 57 of the beaches in the county, said it “strongly urged visitors not to remove stones or sand”.
A spokesperson said: “It may seem harmless, but given the many thousands of visitors to Cornwall’s beaches every year every stone removed could have an impact on coastal erosion, natural flood defences and wildlife habitats.”