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Bicycles hanging high as the result of a student prank in Lund, Sweden.

University students have a long association with pranks and japes.[1] These can often involve petty crime, such as the theft of traffic cones and other public property,[2] or hoaxes.[3][4][5]


A statue of the Duke of Wellington in front of the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, which is famous for having had a traffic cone repeatedly placed on its head, since the 1980s.

One classic target of student theft are traffic cones. The issue of the theft and misuse of traffic cones by students has gained enough prominence that a spokesperson from the UK National Union of Students has been forced to argue that "stereotypes of students stealing traffic cones" are "outdated".[6]

Some universities have gone as far as to devote entire pages of legislation and advice for students with regards to the consequences and laws involving the theft of traffic cones.[7] Misuse of traffic cones in Scotland has even resulted in serious physical injury.[8]

The traffic cone theft issue came to such a head in the United Kingdom in the 1990s that it was brought up in parliament.[9]

In 2002, Fife Constabulary declared a "traffic cone amnesty" allowing University of St Andrews students to return stolen traffic cones without fear of prosecution. A police spokesman had said that the theft of traffic cones had become "an almost weekly occurrence".[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library : FAQ Student pranks
  2. ^ Bidmead, Claire (2001). "Nightmare on student street". Higher Education and Research Opportunities in the UK. Archived from the original on May 31, 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  3. ^ Saltzman, Jonathan (December 24, 2005). "Student's tall tale revealed". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  4. ^ Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT by T.F. Peterson (Paperback - 1 April 2003)
  5. ^ If at All Possible, Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks by Neil Steinberg (Paperback - 1992)
  6. ^ "Rowdy students 'must be tackled'". BBC Online. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  7. ^ "Worcester Students Union – The Home for Worcester University Students". Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-19.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "Falling road cone injures student". BBC Online. 19 November 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  9. ^ House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 11 Dec 1996 (pt 15)
  10. ^ "Students urged to cone clean". BBC Online. 23 May 2002. Retrieved 23 November 2010.