Shower heads are going missing from Cochrane’s sports center and while these acts of vandalism may be causing headaches for maintenance staff, the ultimate price will be paid by the members.
Spray Lake Sawmills (SLS) Family Sports Center facilities manager Jory Sand said staff have seen an “uptick of theft and vandalism throughout the facility,” since reopening after COVID-19 closures.
Pre-pandemic, loitering and property damage was an issue, Sand said, but the closures gave staff time to catch up and fix things.
“I was hoping this was a thing of the past,” he said. “Fast forward to now … there’s viral TikTok trends that are challenging kids to go and steal and deface public property.”
The trend he’s referring to is known as “Devious Licks” or the Bathroom Challenge. Videos of students stealing or damaging sinks, urinals, soap dispensers, tiles and more started appearing on the video app in September 2021. The acts of vandalism forced many Canadian schools to temporarily close washrooms in response to the trend’s growing popularity.
“It’s finally found its way to Cochrane,” he said, noting about a dozen shower heads have been removed from the facility’s dressing rooms.
Stealing shower heads is no easy feat, Sand said, as it requires tools and planning.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said, noting there’s no re-sale value in the stolen goods.
“It’s not something you’re going to want to put in your own bathroom either.”
It’s not just washrooms that are targeted, according to SLS Family Sports Center sales and marketing manager Michelle Everett. She noted vandals and thieves have also targeted vending machines, outside buildings, and have defaced walls.
“It’s a full-time job just trying to stay on top of it,” she said. “The disrespect, it’s very sad.”
Additional security measures have been and will be added to deter acts of vandalism throughout the facility, including additional patrols and surveillance. Meanwhile, staff try to stay on top of repairs to deter copycats.
“It is a cost to the facility,” Sand said. “We’d much rather be improving our offerings and creating new offerings, not replacing things.”
“Theft and vandalism have a direct correlation to our membership fees here. There may be increases.”
Sand and Everett said individuals caught vandalizing or stealing from the facility will be banned. Police and parents will also be involved.
“Videotaping yourselves for your 23 followers is only causing more harm to people,” Sand said. “It’s really not that funny and it doesn’t say much about their character.”