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People enjoy the white sand and pristine waters of Chia beach, on the Italian island of Sardinia, Italy. Image Credit: AP

Rome: A French couple faces up to six years in jail for taking around 40 kg (88.1lbs) of white sand from a beach on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Italian finance police said Tuesday they discovered the sand from a Chia beach stashed in 14 plastic bottles in the couple's SUV during a check as it boarded a ferry Aug. 15 from Sardinia to France.

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14 plastic bottles of sand seized from a French couple in the trunk of the couple’s car. Image Credit: AP

The couple told police they didn't know it was against the law to take the island's famed sand, which is protected as a public good. If found guilty, they face one to six years in jail for aggravated theft.

It's not clear when a trial may be held.

Italian finance police say the sand theft was one of the bigger revealed during a recent crackdown.