POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Teenagers who are caught damaging or stealing school property as part of a TikTok trend will face criminal charges, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd warns.
“This is not a childish mistake. This is high school kids doing an organized criminal act and they’re going to be held appropriately accountable,” said Sheriff Judd.
His deputies have arrested three minors from two high schools on petty theft and criminal mischief charges related to a stolen soap dispenser and a damaged sink.
Bartow police arrested a 15-year-old student from Bartow High School for damaging a soap dispenser and stealing another one.
The suspect said he did the damage to look “cool” as part of the social media trend, according to Bartow Police.
“I do not think it is cool to damage and steal property at your school. 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. Hopefully this young man learned a valuable lesson today that committing crime is not cool.” said Interim Chief Bryan Dorman.
According to authorities, the students are participating in the TikTok trend known as “devious licks.”
The videos show students vandalizing and stealing from schools, mostly in bathrooms.
“It all started with a TikTok video, a devious lick. Well, we’re going to give you an arrest lick if you commit a criminal lick,” said Judd.
River Ridge High School in Pasco County posted on Facebook it is experiencing “bathroom and school destruction.”
“This is a damage trend that is happening in schools – students do not realize the impact of these decisions,” the post reads.
There have been incidents at almost every middle and high school in Seminole County, according to Seminole County Public Schools Communication Officer Michael Lawrence.
At this time, Seminole County Schools is handling the cases through disciplinary action internally.
“Those consequences could include suspension, expulsion, alternative school placement, criminal charges potentially. If they’re part of an extracurricular club or athletic team, they could be removed from those,” Lawrence said.
Students and their families are responsible for paying for the repairs, he said.
“These are long last repercussions that a kid may think it’s funny at the time but it could impact them for many years to come,” he said.
NBC News reported TikTok has banned “devious lick” content.
However, some people are posting videos with “devious” misspelled to get around the ban.