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Caribbean Beaches Disappearing As Tons of Sand Is Stolen

I can almost feel the warm sand in this picture — though one criminal phenomenon is making the sand in the Caribbean "hot" as in stolen. On islands like Puerto Rico, Grenada, and St. Kitts among many others, thieves are actually stealing sand off the beaches for money.

Why the sand swiping? The building surge requires sand and enterprising criminals are reselling it to constructions companies. The sand is in high demand because it is used in cement, which many homeowners are turning to instead of the traditional wood. Despite not having a patch to put your beach towel on, the ecological problems of the theft are beginning to cause concern.

How much sand are we talking? It's no drop in the bucket. To see how much and the effect,


In Jamaica, nearly 100 truckloads of sand disappeared from a private residence leaving plants and limestone exposed to the elements. In Grenada, officials are now having to build a 1.2 million dollar seawall to shield the 131-square-mile island after large scale thefts have left the coast vulnerable to rough seas. Nearly two-thirds of the sand dunes on the small island of Tortola have disappeared.

Currently, it appears that many of the local law enforcement officials may not be so keen to crack down. After 10 Olympic-sized pools of sand disappeared one official began to suspect the involvement of government officials: “I was surprised at the amount. This one could not have been stolen without persons knowing about it.” Fines at this point are exceedingly light and in some cases the thieves still make a profit even after being caught.


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