Stealing School Property? TikTok Challenge Causes Havoc in American High Schools

Example TikToks of people participating in the trend. Source:

Theft of school property isn’t something you hear every day. Many schools around the country have been reporting about students damaging bathrooms, classrooms, and hallways, all for a TikTok trend called “Devious Licks.”

The trend was started by TikTok user @jugg4elias on September 1, where he posted a video pulling out a box of disposable masks from his backpack. The video was captioned with “a month into school absolutely devious lick. Should’ve brought a mask from home.” It went viral, gaining 239,000 views in one week. A few days later, another user, @dtx.2cent, posted a video unzipping his backpack and taking out a hand sanitizer dispenser that he had stolen from school. This video gained over 7.2 million views over the course of two days, effectively kicking off the trend. Both of these videos are now deleted.

Two weeks later, on September 16th, TikTok had banned the trend by removing all hashtags and terms relating to it. When searching for these terms in the app, it led to a message saying that the phrase is associated with behavior that goes against their community guidelines. TikTok also removed the majority of the videos relating to the trend to discourage people from partaking in it.

“Devious Licks” search results are no longer available. Instead, this message is shown to users. 

At AITE, two boys’ bathrooms were vandalized, where the soap dispenser was stolen, the toilet grab bar was ripped off the wall, and the sign outside of the bathroom was taken off. There have been many rumors about surrounding other objects that could have been stolen, such as a fire extinguisher or a toilet, but AITE Principal Tina Rivera confirmed that these were the only damages.

“Our school community has never been like that, we have an honor system and an unspoken code of conduct. Additional steps are needed because these types of things don’t typically happen at AITE,” Rivera said when asked about why the incident could have happened. 

She also shared that some students did speak to her about the incident: “Someone came forward to admit to the responsibility of one of the paper towel holders that was broken, but it was not a part of the challenge. There were some leads, and a few students were spoken to. We believe that there maybe one or two students that haven’t come forward, so the investigation is still ongoing,” she said. Many students provided information to administration about these events. “They came forward because they wanted a safe, secure, and clean school, and they didn’t want these things to happen at AITE,” she said.

Stamford Public Schools Superintendent, Tamu Lucero, addressed the Devious Licks trend in her weekly newsletter sent out to families. “As you may have heard over the past couple of weeks, a national TikTok challenge that encourages theft or vandalism in schools has occurred across the nation,” Lucero said. “While I am grateful that, to date, only a few principals have reported destructive acts inspired by this challenge in our schools, I want to be sure that everyone is aware of the seriousness of this trend,” she said.

Lucero went on to explain that families should talk with their children about the seriousness of vandalism and theft, as many students in different parts of the country have been arrested for participating in the trend. At other schools in the local area, there has also been damage reported. According to the Stamford Advocate, there has been over $500 in damages caused to Greenwich High School, and it has impacted schools in Norwalk, Wilton, Darien, and Fairfield.

As of late, however, there seems to have been a shift in the trend, where instead of students stealing items, they are filming themselves returning stolen items or giving new items to their school. This new trend called “Angelic Yields” began in late September, after many of the Devious Licks videos were removed by TikTok. On September 17, TikTok user @j.uher7 posted a video where he places a roll of toilet paper on the toilet. This video gained over 800 thousand likes and 4.1 million views in three days. The next day, two other users, @thecountryofsugondesia and @michaelnammour, posted their Angelic Yields videos, both videos gaining over 1.3 million likes. 

PBS NewsHour Students reported many other items that are being left in school bathrooms. “Some girls are putting inspirational, inspiring quotes on the doors and on the walls,” student Damya Thorton said. “As well as putting emergency kits in the bathrooms with sanitary items, combs, and hair ties,” Thornton added. Another student, Nicholas Delacruz explained that he found the trend funnier compared to the Devious Licks trend, “I think those are funnier, in my opinion, because it’s like—there’s one where they put Clorox wipes on every sink, and then they had—they refilled the soap, and they had a table and they were playing checkers, and they had like classical music with candles.”

Despite being the last ending imaginable for a trend involving theft, it was nice that everything came full circle to promote positivity instead of a crime. And thankfully for AITE, they were able to get to bottom of everything and made sure nothing crazy happened.