‘Devious licks’: Schools in Morgan County deal with TikTok-inspired thefts
By Wes Tomlinson
For the Enquirer
“Devious licks,” a trend begun on the TikTok video-sharing app, has led to school bathrooms being plundered nationwide and a multitude of thefts, including some in Morgan County.
The video that started the trend was removed from TikTok earlier this month, but not before it acquired more than 345,800 views.
A user, known as jugg4elias, posted a video in early September of a box of disposable masks the TikToker claimed to have stolen from a school.
The video prompted copycat videos of thefts from schools, even of some appliances, posted with the hashtag #deviouslicks.
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office received an introduction to the fad in Hartselle Sept. 10, the night Hartselle High played Decatur High. The sheriff’s office responded to a call that people were stealing soap dispensers out of the visitors’ restroom at J.P. Cain Stadium.
“We caught them in the parking lot,” said Morgan County sheriff’s spokesman Mike Swafford.
Swafford said the sheriff’s office did not know about the fad when it responded to the call.
“We just thought they were doing something crazy,” he said.
The students were apprehended, taken back into the stadium and turned over to Hartselle police, who removed them from the stadium.
Hartselle police took no further action and left it up to Hartselle City Schools to decide on any disciplinary action.
“The school was the victim here, and so it will be left up to them to decide the consequences,” Swafford said.
Swafford said the students involved were 16 and older.
“There was one from Priceville and a few from Hartselle – really just a mix of students from across the county,” he said.
Hartselle High Principal Brad Cooper said he was watching the game when a school resource officer informed him of the thefts.
“Our SRO got a notification from visiting fans from Decatur that there was damage in the visitors’ restroom,” Cooper said.
Cooper said the students are being disciplined.
“Behavior of that sort is not, will not, and will never be tolerated,” Cooper said. “We have dealt with it sternly, and we are still investigating to see what else was taken and who else might have been involved.”
Decatur City Schools has also been victimized by “devious licks,” and Deputy Superintendent Dwight Satterfield issued a statement about it Thursday.
“I understand this is a trendy fad and seems harmless, but we’ve already spent hours tracking down items that have been removed from the school as well as making maintenance repairs to our facilities,” he wrote. “Vandalism, stealing and acts of a disorderly nature are all against the Code of Student Conduct and can also be illegal in many situations. Our administrators are already tracking several of these incidents, and those involved will be dealt with accordingly.”
Decatur police said they have not been contacted by the school system to deal with the vandalism.
“Depending on what the students steal, if it’s very minor, the school system usually deals with it,” said Decatur police spokesperson Irene Cardenas-Martinez.
A TikTok spokesperson said the company is removing any videos hashtagged #deviouslicks or other phrases associated with the challenge to help stop its spread.