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The 'Devious Lick' TikTok challenge that's provoking thefts, vandalism at schools has hit Utah

Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights is pictured on March 31, 2020. Schools across Utah and the nation are being hit by a string of vandalism inspired by a TikTok trend.

Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights is pictured on March 31, 2020. Schools across Utah and the nation are being hit by a string of vandalism inspired by a TikTok trend. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of boys mills about a Utah school restroom and watch as one of them removes a mirror from the wall, holds it like a trophy and gloats, "Oh, we got a mirror!"

The video, which was posted on TikTok, was fueled by the latest social media craze, dubbed the "Devious Lick" challenge.

According to videos that have been chronicled on TikTok, students across the country — and in Utah — have videoed themselves stealing school furnishings such as mirrors, urinals and even computers, or committing acts of vandalism such as emptying soap dispensers on floors, smearing soap on walls or clogging toilets.

Utah school administrators are denouncing the viral trend.

Jeff Haney, spokesman for Canyons School District, said there have been acts of vandalism or thefts at every middle and high school in Canyons District.

"It is needless, the damage that is being incurred because of a stupid TikTok craze. We're asking students to stop it before they face some serious disciplinary and law enforcement actions," he said.

In Canyons District, the vandalism has ranged from stealing and damaging bathroom soap dispensers to taking down and often breaking mirrors in bathrooms and locker rooms. In one case a mirror was carried into a busy school hallway, where it shattered.

Toilets and sinks have been destroyed. Paper towels and toilet paper stuffed deep into toilets has resulted in floods. Even school exit signs have been stolen.

The district has captured some posted videos of students stealing or damaging school property and is asking students to stop immediately.

"We're taking this so seriously that we're sending a very clear message that if you're found doing this, you will be disciplined to the full extent. According to district policy, and we will fully cooperate with law enforcement agencies to prosecute you to the full extent of the law," said Haney.

Haney said it is particularly frustrating given the millions of dollars that students' parents and other residents of the school district have paid through property taxes to rebuild and renovate the district's schools.

"In our district alone, we opened up two brand-new high schools, and a major renovation of a high school — Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest. All three of them have had acts of vandalism," he said.

Elsewhere in Salt Lake County, school districts reported they, too, have experienced thefts and vandalism.

Jordan School District spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf said the school district has had some incidents of theft "mostly involving soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers taken from our restrooms. We have also had things like garbage cans stolen."

Granite School District has also been affected by the TikTok craze, said spokesman Ben Horsley.

"Like many districts across the nation, Granite has been negatively impacted by this latest social media craze. A handful of our secondary schools have received significant damage to our restrooms and other facilities. Such vandalism is costly to our taxpayers and will be aggressively investigated and criminally charged. We are communicating with parents to ask for their assistance to help curb this growing problem," he said.

Alpine School District spokesman David Stephenson said the state's largest school district, which is in Utah County, has also experienced issues with the TikTok challenge. Most damage has been confined to school restrooms.

"We appreciate parents talking with their high school students since we will continue to investigate and those causing the intentional destruction will be held accountable," Stephenson said.

Aside from the possibility of school discipline or the involvement of law enforcement, the incentive for committing the acts of vandalism or thefts may be coming to an end now that TikTok is removing the content.

In response to a report on similar events in the Atlanta area by television station CBS46, a TikTok spokesman released the following statement:

"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."

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Marjorie Cortez

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