My Dear Sgt Al Readers:
One of the common denominators I find interesting in several of my blog posts over the years is the use of traffic cones and pylons in the issues that literally surround them that readers write for me to help. Whether it is using traffic cones or pylons for securing unauthorized parking spaces, blocking street parking after a winter snow storm, or blocking a driveway with cones to prevent people from blocking an entrance with their cars, people have found resourceful ways of using cones, pylons, barrels, even impact attenuators, at least the barrel kinds, as detours of some kind.
But in my years of police work I’ve never heard of the following: someone wanting to keep a traffic detour device as a room decor accessory. I’ve now seen it all, heard it all, done it all, and no one can convince me otherwise.
The following email from my contact form on my blog below comes from a dear lady who’s becoming a friend of mine, Mary. Mary is the mother of a teenage son in an upper New York State semi-rural area who discovered a traffic barrel on their front lawn of their home.
Now the young country squire wants to put it in his room as if it were a pet, with his mother’s blessing. The mere fact that he’s looking for his mother’s approbation and his mother is seeking my advice tells me that the two love and respect one another.
She rolled her eyes then sent me an email asking for advice.
Here’s Mary and my reply:
Sgt. Al here, and thanks for your interesting question.
First off, let me cover myself and say the best person most qualified to answer this question would be a NY attorney at law. Always check with a lawyer if not sure about something legal. I’m just a cop, and of course cops sometimes get it all wrong we all know that . . .
That said, if you were to come into my police stationhouse to the desk and ask me as the desk officer this question, this is how I would answer:
This is possibly one way the traffic barrel landed on the front lawn, and probably will in Mary’s son’s bedroom.
WORDED CAREFULLY: Anything that comes onto your property that does not have an identifying mark in/on it that requires you to make a good faith effort to find the owner to return it, becomes yours as far as I’m concerned. If there was a Prada sweater your size laid across your lawn and no ID tag on the label that said something like PROPERTY OF MRS. SGT. AL, well guess what?
My wife’s Prada sweater laying across Mary’s Front Lawn. Finders keepers . . .
Now if Hurricane Irma blew my 2011 BMW 328i retractable hardtop convertible onto your front lawn without any damage to the car or the lawn, then sorry, as much as your son would like to drive that to school, eventually, I want my car back, and you need to make a good faith effort to find me. That’s the law and what we the police are for.
My BMW 328i Retractable Hardtop Convertible now safely parked in Mary’s driveway. Mary your son can have one spin. Then I want my car back.
Now, let’s talk about traffic cones, pylons, impact attenuators (yes that’s right), and barrels:
Many are owned by utility companies and government agencies like ConEd, Verizon, ATT, Time Warner Spectrum, DOT, Parks, Highways, etc. Many of them have identifying marks. Those technically you have to return and if government owned could get you into trouble if caught with them.
But if you have one of those barrels that doesn’t have any ID mark, then guess what?
How could an owner ID it unless there was a uniqueness to it, which in such case you have to be careful?
So if you can jump this small hurdle I don’t see a problem with your teenage son, only a teen would want something like that, and having it. Please ensure when he releases his pet barrel back into the wild it goes back to barrel land and not a landfill.
And make sure he washes it thoroughly before bringing it inside and you supervise unless he’s a neat freak. Those things are nasty. I know I never did when I was a Highway Patrolman, but I know road workers and homeless would sometimes piss or whatever inside those things. A good bleaching if this doesn’t turn you off and his pet barrel is good to go on proud display in his room LOL! Ah, mothers and sons: a complicated relationship! You writing this letter I do know you love him
Mary we had a few email exchanges where you told me about the rough start your son had growing up that now that he’s a young man he’s taking to life much better as a teenager.
What I didn’t tell you in my reply email that I’ve been thinking days since I sent that, that if I were still an active duty police sergeant and I was a cop in your town knowing what you told me about your son, I would have went to the nearest DOT or Highway Department outpost to appropriate a brand new traffic barrel, etched my name, rank, serial, and badge number on it so your son would never get in trouble for having it, I would have strapped it to the top of my radio car with the light bar and all, and delivered it to your home to go upstairs to your son’s bedroom and help your son install it.
We both then would’ve gone out on a ride-along with my assurance to you that if anything dangerous happens during my tour I’d secure him to leave him somewhere safe to bring him back to you. But my time has passed, and things like this could be done back in the day in some parts of the country. I’m not sure about now . . .
So leave the barrel out there on the curb for a day or two and see what happens, and if nothing, guess what?
I hope this answers your question. Thanks for asking. And don’t forget to follow me and read my blog as more posts are coming soon including one on your future next question!
My best and safe wishes to you and your son!
All images collected for this post except for my selfie above obviously, were taken off the Internet using Google “Labeled for Reuse.” If this is not the case with any of these images please let me know. All video pulled from YouTube.com: