Italian sunbathers have complained about people claiming beach spots overnight.

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Operation "Safe Sea" targets umbrellas and beach equipment left overnight

Hundreds of items seized from shorelines from Tuscany to Sardinia

Perpetrators face fines of up to $220

CNN  — 

In Italy, they’ve decided to fight them on the beaches. By imposing hefty fines, authorities are hoping to deter towel hogs who stake an overnight spot with sun loungers and umbrellas.

The “ancient and ingrained” habit has been blighting Italy’s crowded summer shorelines for decades, according to La Repubblica website. Now coast guards are trying to draw a line in the sand.

They’ve been swooping on beaches from Tuscany to Sardinia and threatening perpetrators with fines of 200 euros ($220). But are things really that bad in Italy?

Yup, says La Repubblica, which reports the seizure of 30 umbrellas, 37 loungers, towels and even items of swimwear on a 100-meter strip of sand in the Tuscan resort of Livorno. In Roseta Capo Spulico, in Italy’s deep south, 200 umbrellas and beach chairs were seized after complaints from tourists.

The culprits behind such acts of beach hoggery are said to range from unscrupulous umbrella operators hoping to bilk tourists, to eager sun seekers reserving space for friends and relatives.

In Tuscany’s Cecina, any attempt to leave unattended equipment on a beach before it opens at 8.30 a.m. has now been made illegal.

And that criminal record ain’t going to fade with those tan lines.