A French couple could face up to six years in jail for taking around 88lb (40kg) of sand from a beach on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Italian finance police said they discovered the white sand from Chia beach stashed in 14 plastic bottles in the couple’s car during a check as it boarded a ferry Sardinia to France on August 15.
The couple told police they did not know it was against the law to take the island’s famed sand, which is protected as a public good.
According to local media, the couple were about to board the ferry departing from Porto Torres to Toulon, in France.
If found guilty, the pair could face between one and six years in jail for aggravated theft.
It is not clear when a trial may be held.
The '"theft" of sand from the beach is a common issue in Sardinia, reports suggest.
Italian police said the theft was one of the biggest revealed during a recent crackdown.