Cache Valley has not been spared by a destructive fad that sprung up across the country this month involving teenagers committing acts of theft and vandalism, then posting videos of their crimes on TikTok.
The videos were tagged “devious licks,” and until TikTok moved this week to remove the posts, thousands of them were being shared — many documenting damage done inside schools.
At Logan High School, a spate of incidents occurred in the past week, prompting the school’s resource officer to send out an email to fellow officers alerting them to the problem. He reported that in recent days the school and adjacent city recreation center saw 24 soap dispensers stolen or damaged, a mirror stolen, a mirror shattered, three bathroom stall doors or dividers damaged, a sink destroyed, and one toilet almost ripped off the wall.
“Unfortunately, yes, this is having an impact in our valley,” said Logan Police Capt. Curtis Hooley, who compared the devious licks to other destructive and dangerous online fads in recent years and urged parents to help curb the behavior.
“I think it would be good if parents would have some conversations with their children in regard to these different things they find on social media that people do that they think are funny,” Hooley said. “Obviously this one is causing a lot of damage to the schools and whatnot, and it’s costing a fair amount of money.”
Cache County Sheriff’s Lt. Mikelshan Bartschi said the same type of damage is showing up at the four major county high schools, but he declined to give specifics, saying his agency holds the view that publicizing such activity only serves to perpetuate it.
“We are indeed seeing it, yes,” Bartschi said. “We’re trying to not give it any more credibility than it already has … I understand why it should be reported on, but by the same token it just causes our kids to engage in even more poor conduct. It’s the old philosophy that the more people are aware of it, the more shenanigans they engage in thinking it’s funny when it actually can cause harm and definitely cost taxpayers dollars.”
Hooley discounted speculation that a widely reported bicycle theft in Logan last week was carried out for the purposes of a TikTok video. The situation involved two teenage girls who allegedly stole a bicycle, then were chased down and held at gunpoint by the bicycle’s owner.
“Absolutely not. I’ve never heard that,” he said.
Hooley said officers and school officials are using security video to help identify the LHS perpetrators, and the online videos could well be used to either track down culprits or prove their crimes.
“Certainly if an officer is able to put that together and see that there’s a TikTok video, then obviously that’s evidentiary,” he said.
According to observers of the fad, the videoed vandalism was typically done on items deemed useful in society, and perpetrators were trying to one-up each other to gain more likes on the social media platform.