Is It Illegal To Steal A Traffic Cone? (3 State Laws + Fines)

Growing up in a small town had a bit of interesting quirks. One of these were kids going out after school to steal the towns traffic cones as a prank. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to participate in his exhilarating activity but who would have thought that stealing a cities property was a prank to a bunch of 16 year old’s. I would assume at the time they didn’t think about the ramifications of their actions but I had always wondered if they would have gotten in trouble if they’d been caught. While searching around this is what I have found out.

Yes, just like stealing anything, stealing traffic cones is illegal. If you were to get caught in the act or after it would be considered theft of city property and is punishable by fines or even jail time. In some cases, the punishment is greater if the stolen cones were used to intentionally block traffic or cause harm to others. It’s better to find safer and legal ways to obtain a traffic cone by either buying one or renting one from a company/city.

Now, this answer might not have persuaded you to not go out and steal a traffic cone. If you’re needing more reasons go ahead and keep reading.

What does the law say?

The law is pretty clear on theft. Taking something without permission is considered theft and is punishable. In the case of traffic cones, they are usually owned by either a state or city government so any theft is punishable as criminal actions. States have different degrees of punishment for stealing traffic cones depending on how many were taken and what was done with them once taken.

Maybe one day I’ll go and add each of the states laws but at the current moment I’ve compiled Virginia and Florida law regarding theft of city property.

These are the potential punishments:

  • Virginia law states “Any person who intentionally defaces, damages, knocks down, or without authorization interferes with the effective operation of, or removes any traffic control device or a street address sign posted to assist in address identification in connection with enhanced 9-1-1 service as defined in § 56-484.12 is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
  • Florida law states “A person may not, without lawful authority, attempt to or in fact alter, deface, injure, knock down, or remove any official traffic control device or any railroad sign or signal or any inscription, shield, or insignia thereon, or any other part thereof. A violation of this subsection is a criminal violation pursuant to s. 318.17 and shall be punishable as set forth in s. 806.13 related to criminal mischief and graffiti, beginning on or after July 1, 2000.”

As you can see it’s not going to be a grand ole time if you get caught stealing.

Why would someone steal a traffic cone?

Someone thinking straight and about their future wouldn’t steal a traffic cone. This section is for the type of individuals that find fun in breaking the rules or impressing their friends.

As you can see I don’t have the same thought process as someone who would steal a traffic cone so I reached out to my younger brother and asked him why people participate.

These are some of the reasons he told me:

  • Pettiness: Some may steal traffic cones for pure spite or as a joke. Usually they will be trying to look cool in front of their friends.
  • Selfishness: Others may steal them to block off parking spots or roadways for their own convenience. Some people are just mad their road is being blocked, so they’ll take the time out of their day to take the road cones so they don’t have to go around.
  • Profit: Road cones aren’t cheap and some thieves may even try to sell stolen traffic cones for profit. The crazy thing is they can go for a whopping $10 online, so I can’t imagine what the profit would be for these guys.

As you can see they aren’t good reasons but to the people who do it or have done it they seemed like good ideas at the time. Now, next I’m going to explain why you shouldn’t steal a traffic cone and persuade you to just go back inside and hangout.

Why you shouldn’t steal a traffic cone

It feels a bit odd when I write these articles and feel as if I’m giving a “how to be a good citizen” seminar. Below I have listed out a few different reasons why stealing a traffic cone would not be a good idea, hopefully they persuade.

Here they are:

  • Others Safety: Think about where you’re taking the traffic cone from. Is it potentially created an unsafe driving experience for someone? Most cones are placed so traffic knows where to go or is being warned of a possible danger, by taking that cone you’re creating a potential safety issue for others.
  • The Law: As previously mentioned stealing traffic cones is illegal and punishable by fines or jail time. It’s just not worth it to risk the consequences for something like this.
  • Cost And Time: Something to think about, if you pay taxes in your town, you’re probably still paying for the cone you stole. It’s just to replace it this time as it can be expensive and time consuming to replace stolen traffic cones, for cities or even for individual businesses. The cost is ultimately passed down to taxpayers or customers.

Reading them back now, they seem like great reasons to not steal a traffic cone.

How Can You Legally Get A Traffic Cone?

Now you don’t have to go about stealing to get your hands on a traffic cone. There are actually a few pretty good ways to get your hands on one of these bad boys.

Below I have listed a few potential ways to get your hands on trusty traffic cone.

  • Contact Local Government: The best and most legal way to obtain a traffic cone is to contact your local government, such as the city or county. They may be able to provide you with one for temporary use or direct you to where they can be purchased.
  • Rent From A Business: Many companies, such as construction or event planning businesses, rent out traffic cones for a fee.
  • Buy From A Retailer: Traffic cones can also be purchased from various retailers, both in-person and online. However, keep in mind that these cones may not meet the standards for official use on roads or during emergencies.

Overall, stealing a traffic cone is not worth the potential consequences and there are alternative ways to obtain one for your own use. Remember to always follow the law and contact local authorities for proper usage of traffic cones to ensure safety for yourself and others.


Stealing a traffic cone is illegal and punishable by fines or jail time. It is always best to contact your local government for temporary use of city property rather than risking breaking the law.

Don’t be dumb, if you’re thinking about stealing one, don’t. There is no purpose other than to get caught and have a stressful time added onto your plate.

Interested In Other Criminal Law Articles? Check Out Our Criminal Defense Page.