Vacationers and Tourists Beware of What You Pick Up at a Foreign Beach

Almost everyone likes to pick up something to keep as a souvenir of their vacations and travels.  Some people collect postcards, others commemorative spoons, forks or thimbles and the list goes on and on.  My mom used to collect salt and pepper shakers from everywhere she went and my wife likes to collect photos and pieces of fabric.

I’ve known others who like to collect sand and pebbles from the various beaches they visited.  That is what Jason and Sheila Dement like to do, collect pebbles and stones from places they travel to.  However in Jason’s case, it led to his arrest and detention by the Turkish government.

Jason and Sheila are from Purvis, Mississippi but they are currently civilian workers at Katterbach Kaserne Army base in Germany.  The couple took a six day holiday to Turkey, largely to visit the warm sunny beaches along the Mediterranean Sea.  As is their normal custom, they collected a variety of rocks from the beach.  They placed their stones in a bag to bring back with them.

At the Antalya airport in Turkey, officials went through the bag of stones and found what they are referring to as artifacts.  Jason was immediately detained and questioned.  Sheila was allowed to return to Germany, but Jason has been forbidden from leaving Turkey pending an investigation.  If the authorities that are now examining the two items in question determine that they are artifacts, Jason will face trail and a possible 12 year prison sentence.

One of the items in question has been described is triangular shaped piece of marble that has been worn and weathered but looks as if it could have originated from a modern building or construction site.  The other object is nearly 5 inches long, slanted and brick-colored.  It looks like it could be a piece of older masonry.

Turkey has tightened their laws about artifacts due to the countless pieces of ancient history that have been taken out of the country.  Their definition of what is an artifact is very broad and includes many objects that few would consider worth protecting.  In Jason’s case, the two pieces are being examined by Turkish officials to determine whether or not they are artifacts and if Jason will face charges or be released to return to Germany.

So if you have plans on traveling out of the country and like to pick things to remember your trip by, you’d better find out what kind of laws they have before you find yourself in the same situation as Jason Dement.  From what I hear, Turkish and many other countries jails are worse than most in the US and you wouldn’t want to extend your vacation in any of them.