06/25/2012 08:00 am ET

Rome Tourists Caught Stealing Cobblestones, Artifacts From Eternal City

Tourists to Rome are attempting to take more goodies home than just gifts from the Colosseum gift shop. Area airport screeners have increasingly found cobblestones, mile markers and mosaics in passengers' luggage in recent months, The Telegraph reports.

On Sunday, Roman police displayed a collection of artifacts that have been taken by tourists in the first six months of 2012. Many of the tourists who have been caught have been "northern Europeans," according to the paper.

It's a particularly unusual theft and at the same time it's one that we are finding is on the increase and happening more and more often. Those primarily responsible are northern Europeans who have simply picked up a loose cobble stone or piece of mosaic they have found while wandering around Rome. They then put it in their luggage and take it home with them as a souvenir of their holiday – we have also found large milestones made from marble in suitcases that have been taken from the Appian Way.

Although the artifacts have no monetary value, and the tourists have not been arrested, Del Greco said they were still attempting to take "away part of Rome's culture and heritage."

Mr. Del Greco added that those caught were left "highly embarrassed," though instead of being arrested, they were cautioned and allowed to return home and their ancient souvenirs returned.

Umberto Broccoli, superintendent of culture for Rome's city council said in the Daily Mail: "I should warn all tourists that the city’s rich heritage should not be touched. What these people do by stealing these items is show their ignorance. If they want a souvenir of their visit then they should buy something from a shop."