University students have a long association with pranks and japes. These can often involve petty crime, such as the theft of traffic cones and other public property, or hoaxes. In fact, practical jokes play such a significant part in student culture that numerous books have been published that solely focus on the issue of student pranks.
In some university towns, misbehaviour on the part of students became such an issue that a report has been released which studies the issue. The report, Studentification: A Guide to Opportunities, Challenges and Practice, by Universities UK, focuses on six British universities as case studies.
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the UK National Union of Students has been forced to argue that "stereotypes of students stealing traffic cones" are "outdated".
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. Misuse of traffic cones in Scotland has even resulted in serious physical injury.
The traffic cone theft issue came to such a head in the 1990s that it was brought up in parliament.
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".
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