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traffic cones lined up along the side of a road

Support & Wellbeing

Traffic cones, signs and stolen street furniture

By ConductTeam 07 Nov 2023

This article is part of a series on behaviour and communal living issues in residences. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Why stolen street furniture is taken seriously in the accommodation.

  • What’s likely to happen if you have items like this in your flat.

  • What actions you might want to take to avoid this happening to you.

Most people living in student accommodation have seen a traffic cone left in a kitchen corner. Traffic barriers, road signs, and other kinds of ‘street furniture’ are bright, light, and easy to take. When you’re drunk and walking home late at night, and your flatmate grabs a traffic cone to wear as a hat, it can all seem like a bit of a joke. But when your whole flat is charged the costs of removing and storing the stolen items, things can quickly get serious. When you all get referred to a formal disciplinary meeting for theft, endangering others, and creating a fire risk in the accommodation, it’s suddenly not so funny after all.

In the ACS Conduct Team, we see a lot of stolen street furniture, like traffic cones and street signs, left in kitchens and lounges. So, why is this an issue? These items shouldn’t be in the accommodation at all. They’re big and take up a lot of space, so they’re always getting in other people’s way. In the event of a fire, when the smoke means visibility is low, they’re a serious hazard. They could stop someone from evacuating quickly, injure you, or make it difficult for emergency services to enter the flat to fight a fire.

There’s also the concern that they’re not actually yours; they’re stolen. Leaving a traffic cone in your lounge is advertising the fact that you’ve stolen council safety equipment. It’s equipment that was placed in the street to keep other people safe, to warn of hazards, road works, and damaged surfaces. It’s both dangerous and illegal to take it away.

If these items are found in your flat when staff come in to clean or fix maintenance issues, they’ll be reported.

If they’re small items, and not in the way, you’ll usually be told to remove them, and given a time period to do this in. If you don’t do it in time, they’ll be removed by staff, and you’ll be charged for their removal, and any other related costs.

If they’re big, positioned dangerously, or have sharp edges, they’ll often be removed as an urgent health and safety risk, and you’ll be charged all the costs of removing and storing them.

Either way, when these items are found, they’ll be reported. That report is sent to us at the ACS Conduct Team, and disciplinary action will follow. We’ll be considering the incident from several angles, which could include some or all of the following: theft; antisocial behaviour; misuse of the accommodation; endangering others; obstructing fire escape routes; and wasting staff time.

If you have items like this in your accommodation, you’re in a difficult situation. There’s no right way to get rid of them. You can contact the council to ask them what to do, or you may be able to return them to wherever you took them from. You shouldn’t dump them on campus, or give them to other students. If you do, they may be traced back to you, and then the disciplinary investigation will also have to consider that you knowingly dumped them, or handled stolen property.

Hopefully this article has helped you to understand why stolen street furniture is taken seriously in the accommodation, what’s likely to happen if you have items like this, and what actions you might want to take to avoid these issues.

- ACS Student Conduct Team