Increasingly Brazen “Cone” Pranksters Target Faculty, Students Alike

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A map showing all of the known conings

In the beginning of January, mysterious traffic cones began appearing on multiple Sequoyah students’ doorsteps late at night. The students who were “coned,” all juniors, were baffled when orange traffic cones appeared in front of their homes overnight.

On the 12th of January, junior Ryan Dal Ponte was coned. “I just woke up and my parents asked me why there was a cone in front of my front door. There was no other information that I had, so I checked the security cameras and got the video.” As seen in the security footage, the suspect emerges from the passenger side of an unidentifiable car with an unidentifiable driver. After reviewing the security footage, Dal Ponte speculated on a short list of suspects, including a senior he believes looks suspiciously like the figure in the recording.

On the 18th of January, junior Cleo Bluthenthal was coned. “I heard a noise, my dog was barking, and then I opened my door, and there was a cone on top of my car… and this weird plastic stop sign was in front of my house.” Bluthenthal described her shock, as she had no idea where these cones came from: “I told my mom there was a cone in front of my house, she saw it, then I look in our Amazon cart a couple of days later, and she had purchased a security camera!” Junior Mia Carrillo, who was also coned that night, said her mother was “frantic” when she discovered the cone and assumed that it was an act of bullying. Another junior, Bronwen O’Connor, was coned later that month, though she did not remember the date.

Junior Max Adams was also coned on the 18th of January. “My dad came into my room and he asked me ‘why is there a cone on our doorstep?’ and I said, ‘I have no idea’ so we went outside and we checked it out, and indeed, there was a very, very large cone sitting on our doorstep.” Adams described the cone as being about “the size of the trash cans on the Sequoyah campus.” He added that he is “just curious about how someone would transfer it…. It was right in front of my door.” Adams’ coning incident took place in the evening, and he did not see this happen. Neither did the others at his house. He continued: “Initially I thought it was construction because sometimes there’s construction stuff going on around my house, and I thought someone moved it, maybe gardeners or something.”

On March 9th, two additional students were coned. Junior Harper McDowell came home that night and, “to my surprise, there was a cone on my front door.”

The cone left at Alex Zavala’s doorstep. (Image: Alex Zavala)

Alex Zavala was also coned later that night, saying that he thinks it was because his address is known by “a good amount of people.” Eddie Gonzalez, witnessed the coner on March 8th before Zavala’s house was coned. As Gonzalez was leaving Zavala’s house, he said he saw senior Sophie Root-Stevens “in a hoodie, hiding, as she was walking in the opposite direction I was.” He continued, saying, “based on the information I know, she is not the ringleader.”

While the first conings were only with Sequoyah students, on Sunday, March 17th, Chair of the Humanities department Ian Chang discovered a cone at his doorstep. Chang said his kids found it there at 7:30 AM. The orange cone was labeled “Henkels & McCoy,” a construction contractor that has recently been working on power lines in the Los Angeles area. In an interview, Chang said that he did not know that the prank would extend to faculty and that he suspects this incident was a group effort.

“To my knowledge, I’ve never told any Sequoyah students where I live or had any at my house, so I’m not exactly sure, if it was a student, how the student found my house.” He said he wondered if a student followed him and his son home from theater rehearsal, but added “it would have been a gamble because that student wouldn’t have known we were going home.”

While Chang said he is “fine” and his wife “is not bothered,” he did warn the pranksters about coning other faculty members. “I don’t know if this is the beginning of the coning of more teachers and administrators, but I would advise the coners to be careful, because I know my colleagues would feel varying degrees of creeped out.” He continued, “This is a risk that any prankster takes, that you have to have a delicate sense of the person you’re pranking and how they’re going to receive the joke.”

Pearl Harris “coned” herself, as seen in this Snapchat post.

Coning culture at Sequoyah has spread so quickly that junior Pearl Harris jokingly coned herself by posting a photo on Snapchat, displaying a cone on her car, but then said later on in an interview that she had done it to herself as a joke. When Director of College Counseling Elsa von Heydenreich first heard of the incidents, she said, “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Junior Itzel Estrada, who was not coned, issued a warning to the coner: “If anybody shows up to my house, you don’t even want to know what’ll happen.”