A man photographed ‘stealing’ pebbles from a Sussex beach was taking them for his daughter’s tortoise house, according to his boss.
Photographs of two men taking stones from the shore in Bognor Regis, in the vicinity of a parked company van, were circulated on social media last week.
When approached for comment, the company’s owner replied: “As I understand it, while taking a rest break before the journey home, one of my employees removed some pebbles from the beach with which to decorate his daughter’s tortoise house.”
A spokesperson for Arun District Council said it had also been in touch with the company and ‘advised that their action is contrary to the Coast Protection Act 1949 and could be considered as theft’.
They added: “The material on the beach forms an important defence against the action of the sea and its loss could result in erosion of the coastline or flooding of the town.
“Arun’s foreshores team and engineers are aware of this incident and will be particularly vigilant to future offences of this nature.”
The spokesman also expressed the council’s thanks to the taker of the photographs ‘for making us aware’.
Reaction to the images online was very divided between calls for it to be reported to police and comments such as: “Take the lot away lets have a beach again then we can live with it.”
The severity of the crime was also a hot topic of discussion on one forum.
Another comment said: “I’m guessing the amount of people who ‘steal them’ has to be very low. Meaning it would take years and years for it to actually effect to sea defences?
“I don’t know. I’m not looking to start a debating I personally thing the post and the thought of getting arrested for stealing stones is funny.”
While another replied: “Yes you can be arrested. Damaging our sea defences is no laughing matter.”
When asked for a statement a police spokesman said ‘there was no trace of the incident’ on its records.
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