Who stole an entire beach in Jamaica?

Police are conducting forensic tests of sand on other beaches

Jamaican investigators are still scratching their heads over the mysterious disappearance of an entire beach, after hundreds of tons of white sand from a developing resort were discovered missing last July from Coral Spring beach on Jamaica’s north coast. No arrests after nearly three months, or an explanation of how thieves could transport 500 truckloads of sand without anyone noticing, have created a political storm and left detectives red-faced.

The opposition People’s National Party has alleged a cover-up. Prime Minister Bruce Golding has ordered a report into what happened. Baffled detectives, meanwhile, have fingered the tourism industry because luxurious white sand beaches are worth their weight in tourism dollars. Mark Shields, the deputy commissioner for crime, told the BBC, “It’s a very complex investigation because it involves so many aspects. You’ve got the receivers of the stolen sand, or what we believe to be the sand, the trucks themselves, the organizers—and, of course, there is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand.”

Meanwhile, development of the nearly $132-million, 64-acre resort has been halted. Investors in the property are now working with an environmentalist to assess the potential environmental impact of the theft, since damage from hurricanes may be increased without a beach acting as a buffer (the coast has salt pans, mangroves and a dry limestone forest). Police have started forensic tests comparing samples from other beaches with those taken from the scene of the crime in the hopes of finding the guilty party. No word yet on whether they are also looking for a giant sandcastle.