Where I grew up the locals used to joke that the land could only grow cows, corn, and Christmas trees. Because underneath the limited topsoil of the moraine was a huge a$$ mountain of sand and gravel. As I bussed to school every day, I remember watching one sandy hillside gradually disappear as the locals helped themselves to the natural resource when they needed to make cement or fill their children's sandbox.
About three months ago, according to this article, someone in Jamaica decided to help themselves to some sand on a much larger scale ...
Questions are being asked in Jamaica about a police investigation into the theft of hundreds of tons of sand from a beach on the island's north coast.
Apparently some 500 truckloads of sand were taken from a planned resort and ... disappeared. Three months later and they're still looking for it. Since Jamaican beach sand is of a MUCH higher quality than our poor glacial sand, the authorities suspect it didn't end up in cement, but on some other hotel's beach. They're even conducting forensic tests on other beaches to try to determine where the sand went.
One man's beach is another man's gold, I guess.
*Updated October 28, 2009* This apparently isn't specific to Jamaica. Sand theft is all the rage in the Caribbean according to this Discovery article.
(By the way, the picture above is one Gizmo Guy took from our hotel room overlooking Clearwater Beach back in the early 80s. That's really the color, it's not adjusted. It's sunset and really was that gold. The one below of the two boys on the rocks is one he took in Jamaica when we visited in 1979. They're both beautiful, aren't they?)