World to tourists: 'Stop stealing everything!'

World to tourists: 'Stop stealing everything!'

A tourist in Turkey faces 12 years in prison for "smuggling historical artifacts" he found on the beach
Boracay sand
Looks peaceful, but sand thieves are afoot on Boracay Island in the Philippines.

Here's another reason anything from a beach makes for a terrible holiday souvenir.

A U.S. tourist has been arrested for trying to bring home rocks and what he thought was debris from a beach in Turkey.

Jason Dement, 30, from Mississippi, was stopped and questioned at Antalya Airport when airport security found a piece of marble and what may be a piece of old masonry in his luggage.

The Turkish authorities charged him with trying to "smuggle historical artifacts," reported the Telegraph.

While his wife was allowed to leave the country, Dement now faces up to 12 years in prison.

Theft by travelers has been in the headlines various times over the last year. Travelers looking for unique souvenirs will stuff almost anything they can into their luggage from pieces of the Great Wall to live penguins.

At Boracay Island in the Philippines, the magnificent white beach sands are suffering “blatant extraction” at the hands of the kinds of tourists that give the rest of us a bad name.

Responding to the threat to its most valuable natural resource, local officials passed an ordinance last September that greatly toughened the existing law for being caught carting off sand or pebbles from the Philippines’ top tourist destination.

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Great Wall of ChinaThis part of the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China, in Hebei province, is in good shape. But other sections of the Wall have been diminished over the years by brick and stone looters.As reported by the Manila Bulletin, the ordinance stated that: “Boracay Island, a masterpiece of nature endowed by the Almighty with powdery white sand, is being gradually dissipated by man’s selfish interests without due regard to the consequences.”

The new penalty for first-time sand thieves in Boracay was set at 2,500 pesos (US$60) or a prison sentence of not less than one month and not more than six months. Subsequent offenses will bring stiffer minimum penalties.

The new punishments may or may not be effective, but one thing is certain: greedy tourists will continue to commit selfish acts around the globe.

Last June, The Telegraph reported that visitors in Italy have been pinching cobblestones, marble mile markers and mosaic pieces from ancient Roman sites.

Italian officials have reported an increase this year in cases of theft of Roman relics, with pieces of 2,000-year-old stone and other artifacts often discovered in travelers’ luggage at major airports.

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A year ago, the Daily Mail reported that three British citizens had been accused of stealing a penguin from an Australian marine park, though, surprise, a night of partying may have been involved in that absurd heist.

Exhausted but unharmed, the seven-year-old fairy penguin, named Dirk, was discovered and returned to his park home and mate, Peaches.

Officials and archaeologists in China have long been concerned about major destruction and diminution of large sections of the Great Wall due to casual looting.

Regrettably little, it seems, is off limits to the dedicated souvenir hunter.