A Florida teen has been arrested in connection to a viral trend dubbed “devious licks” in which kids film themselves destroying and stealing school property, to later share the footage on the popular video sharing app, TikTok.
On Sept. 16, School Resource Officers (SRO) from Bartow High School in Polk County School District, were alerted to damage to a boys’ restroom on school campus, according to a press release from the Bartow Police Department (BPD).
Two soap dispensers, valued at $45 each, had been removed from the wall with one dispenser found in a restroom sink. The other was missing.
Bartow H.S. SROs were aware of the trend, according to the BPD. They launched an investigation and located witnesses.
“During the course of their investigation, they did locate the suspect and arrested him for Criminal Mischief and Theft,” the BPD said. “The suspect noted he did the damage to look ‘cool’ and take part in the social media trend. A video of him with the stolen property was located.”
After his arrest, the 15-year-old student was released to the Department of Juvenile Justice, the BPD confirmed to Fox News.
“I do not think it is cool to damage and steal property at your school,” BPD Interim Chief Bryan Dorman stated in the release. “I hope that his arrest sends a strong message to those who are thinking about taking part in the senseless social media craze.”
“While at school, learning is cool; stealing and damaging are not,” Dorman added. “Hopefully this young man learned a valuable lesson today that committing crime is not cool.”
A spokesperson for Polk County School District told Fox News via email that they’re aware of incidents of vandalism occurring in their schools which appear to be related to the TikTok challenge.
“Although the damage has been minor, we take these incidents seriously,” the spokesperson wrote. “We work with law enforcement in each case. Any students responsible will also be disciplined in accordance with our student code of conduct.”
In recent weeks, “devious licks” has had districts across the U.S. are reporting theft and vandalism as many students returned to school.
Urban dictionary defines a “lick” as “a successful type of theft which results in an acceptable, impressive and rewarding payday for the protagonist.”
Video results using the hashtag #deviouslicks have been removed by TikTok.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 235 million views of #deviouslicks-type videos labeled under the alternative, #devious. That hashtag and phrase has since been blocked as well.
TikTok released the following statement to Fox News regarding the trend.
“We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior,” a spokesperson said.
Aubrey Chancellor, executive director of communications at North East Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, confirmed to Fox News Wednesday that its schools have seen broken light fixtures as well as soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and mirrors ripped off of walls.
“It’s important for students to understand what they see on social media is not always a good idea in reality,” Chancellor wrote in an email. “The students involved face disciplinary action and are expected to pay restitution as well. If possible, charges may be filed as well.”
The juvenile arrested in Bartow will not be identified due to his age of 15, police said.