Devious Licks creates on campus challenge

Tik Tok trend finds teens damaging schools

Across the country, TikTok inspired a new generation of clout-seeking pranksters who moved from harmless jokes to vandalism. 

This phenomenon started in early September when TikTok user @jugg4elias stole a box of face masks, referring to the stolen items as “devious licks.” The phrase originates from the word “lick,” which means to successfully acquire a large amount of money in a short period of time. 

That video immediately went viral with millions of views. TikTok users across the country raced to acquire their own “devious licks,” stealing hand sanitizers, soap dispensers, laptop monitors, screen projectors, and science equipment. One student even claimed to have stolen a school bus, flaunting the bus keys and driving the bus to random locations in the video. 

At Monte Vista High School, soap and paper towel dispensers started disappearing off the walls. Even a toilet ring seal was broken and detached. 

And as schools began catching on to the trend, administrators and teachers were quick to respond, claiming these acts were vandalism and possibly felonies. 

“I was really disappointed that people would try to actively destroy their school,” said Chad Geernaert, a history and government teacher who said he first heard of the trend from local news. “I felt bad for those who had to repair the damages and mad that our tax money was being stolen like this.”

Sophomore Sammy Kan believes that students were motivated by their hunger for internet clout and likes. 

“When millions of people online are liking your videos, it makes you feel validated and special on the internet,” Kan said. “As our daily lives are revolving more and more around the internet, the concept of internet presence and popularity becomes increasingly valued.”

Across the country, schools went to extreme measures to put an end to the trend. Some of these require students to bring clear backpacks, removing doors off of stalls, and have a staff member stationed outside of each bathroom to make sure nothing is getting stolen. 

On Sept. 17, the Monte Vista administration posted a statement on the daily bulletin, warning students that “campus monitors, cameras, custodians and staff are on the alert,” and the actions were “suspendable offenses.” 

However, principal Kevin Ahern viewed the solution as a community effort. 

“It comes down to how willing our student body is to put up with it,” Ahern said. “You can only punish so far, but it’s about if the punishments can change behavior.”

Ahern said that simply applying stricter rules and consequences may even motivate students to steal more to satisfy the thrill.

“The more security you put in the more holes you get,” Ahern said. “That’s why it is more important for us as a community to step up and say that this is not OK.” 

The money spent on repairing the damages also adds up, and comes at the cost of classroom supplies and materials.

“The money used to replace those items comes straight out of our discretionary money,” Ahern said. “It isn’t some sort of endless amount of money we can invest in to fix our bathrooms. From the time a soap dispenser is stolen to the time a replacement is installed, it costs around $100 for each individual dispenser. Hiring plumbers is also expensive and to repair a toilet you have to fix the seal and piping.”

Ahern said it comes down to the students to prevent them from further getting stolen.  “We can’t monitor students’ behavior all the time,” he said. “It’s up to our community to trust each other.”

This article was written originally for The Stampede, the student newspaper of Monte Vista High School in Danville