Now, there's a crazy trend being fueled by and apparently chronicled on TikTok: stealing school supplies – everything from soap dispensers and toilets to computers and film projectors, as well as other school equipment.
Restrooms are primary targets for disciples of this "devious licks" craze as mirrors, sinks, urinals, ceiling tiles and toilet stall doors and dividers are among prizes being stolen and displayed in videos on the social video site.
School administrators have begun denouncing the trend, calling it vandalism and theft. The Coachella Valley (Calif.) Unified School District, east of Los Angeles, has issued an "urgent announcement" on Facebook to dissuade "a TikTok challenge going viral that is affecting school campuses across the nation."
Fairfax County Public Schools, in northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., sent out a notice this week to parents asking them to dissuade their children from engaging in the trend. "We have seen some of this … recently and ask for your support in helping make sure our students are not engaging in this unacceptable behavior," Falls Church (Va.) High School principal Ben Nowak said in a note to parents.
Beyond the potential film projector heist, among the other crazier videos is one posted a week ago with 4.6 million views so far, in which a TikTok user states, "I won this trend," and unzips a backpack and pulls out a cache of COVID-19 self-administered rapid antigen tests they supposedly have stolen. They toss the tests on a pile of dozens of more tests and then opens a drawer to show more tests.
The "devious licks" trend got its start earlier this month, according to the Know Your Meme site, when a TikTok user posted a video of themself stealing disposable masks with the caption "a month into school absolutely devious lick. Should've brought a mask from home."
Since then, TikTokers in high schools and colleges began posting similar videos of their heists. As of Monday, the hashtag #deviouslick had gotten more than 175 million views, according to Mashable.
That hashtag is no longer found in searches on TikTok, which told USA TODAY in a statement it was "removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior."
"We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities," TikTok's statement said.
However, several other popular searches remained on the site Wednesday including "devious trend," "deviouslics," and "the biggest licks of the school year."
"Licks" refer to thefts or robbery; you might be familiar with the phrase from the 2019 song "Momma I Hit A Lick," by 2 Chainz with Kendrick Lamar. However, most of the TikTok videos involving these recent licks include a sped-up version of rapper Lil B's song "Ski Ski Basedgod."
Many videos are still getting millions of views, with some of the more outlandish posts including one of a student professing to have overwhelmed the school's internet service and another threatening to carjack the school's golf cart. "My school banned phones because of this trend," one user commented.
One video made a joke video about the trend, suggesting if "youre a highschool janitor and hear this song (the Lil B track) down the hall" you know a lick is in progress. It's gotten more than 4.8 million views so far.
In northern Virginia, educators are trying to put a stop to the practice, while schools combat the spread of COVID-19.
"We are especially concerned because students are damaging paper towel dispensers and stealing soap dispensers from our bathrooms which presents a challenge to maintaining a healthy and safe school environment," said Amy Goodloe, principal at Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly, Va., in a message sent to parents.
McLean (Va.) High School principal Ellen Reilly told The Highlander, the school's newspaper, this week, “All this is is vandalism. And it’s (during) COVID-19, when people are supposed to be washing their hands. It’s not real bright.”
Contributing: Jonathan Horwitz
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.