MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A nationwide TikTok trend involving students stealing items from their schools and posting swaggering videos online afterward has prompted at least two Twin Cities schools to crack down this week, boosting security and surveillance.
In a statement to parents Thursday, Shakopee West Middle School officials said that the social media-spurred thefts, known as “devious licks,” have increased significantly in recent days, leaving bathrooms particularly damaged.
“We have tried several measures to prevent the vandalism and theft, but have been unable to get it to stop,” Principal Lori Link wrote. “In fact, it is escalating.”
In response, the school says it is temporarily locking student bathrooms during classtime, although staff bathrooms will remain open for use. The only times student bathrooms will be open is briefly before and after school, during passing time, and lunch.
During lunch, however, staffers will be posted outside the bathrooms, making sure that no one walks off with a trophy mirror or urinal.
Across the metro at Stillwater Area High School, administrators say they are boosting staff supervision and adding hallway cameras after soap dispensers were plundered from the bathroom walls.
“Any students who are caught will be subject to discipline as outlined in our district handbook,” Principal Robert Bach said in a Wednesday statement. “Vandalism and theft at school can result in suspension, expulsion, payment for damage and even criminal charges.
He urged that parents talk to their children about the social media challenge, which began going viral on TikTok last month, inspiring students across the country to try steal their way to online fame.
On Wednesday, TikTok announced that it has banned “Devious Licks” videos from the platform, saying they violate the app’s community guidelines.
Videos posted in recent weeks from across the nation have shown students stealing school furnishings — from clocks to computers — and vandalizing rooms by smearing walls with soap. One TikToker, who apparently stole a broom, captioned their video: “First week but got this absolute devious lick.”
Back to school isn’t only exciting for students, but parents as well.
“We got to see the classrooms. we got to hear about new curriculum,” said Suzanne Olson, who recently attended the open house at Maple Grove High School where her son is a student. While there, she said the principal also shared with parents a trending problem.
“He said, ‘And if you need to use the restrooms don’t be concerned if you see what looks like blood splatter on the walls. That’s a TikTok prank and it’s really Kool-Aid or something like that so don’t worry about it, we just haven’t gotten it all cleaned off yet,'” she recalled. “This is bordering on criminal behavior.”
When WCCO posted about “devious licks” on Facebook, parents listed off several more districts having the same problems statewide.
Suspension, expulsion, even criminal charges encompass the possible discipline for Stillwater students. Olson hopes a stern conversation at home will also make a difference.
“That’s where parents get in trouble is not acknowledging that hey, my kid could be capable of this,” she said.