Extreme damage to public washrooms in Surrey, B.C., parks is under investigation and Mounties say they believe the vandalism may be connected to a social media trend.
Mounties said Tuesday the damage has been noted “over the last few months,” especially in the city’s Cloverdale area.
According to the RCMP, damage to public washrooms has included smashed toilets, stolen soap dispensers, and broken partitions and vents.
In their update, Mounties said the damage “could be related to a social media trend where youth film themselves causing damage to washrooms.” Those videos are then sometimes posted to apps like TikTok, police said.
“These acts of vandalism are unacceptable and have caused significant damage to our much-needed public washroom facilities,” said Const. Sarbjit K. Sangha in a news release.
Photos released by Mounties of the damage show one toilet completely smashed into small pieces and another removed off its base.
Other social media trends have prompted warnings from police in recent weeks. In Ontario, local police issued a warning late last month over an online challenge that encourages people to kick in the doors of homes. The warning was issued after a home security camera appeared to show three young people filming themselves doing the challenge.
A report commissioned by TikTok and published last month found that half of teens surveyed participate in online challenges to gain views, comments and likes. Forty-six per cent of teens said impressing others was one of their top reasons.
The survey found, however, that most teens don’t take part in challenges. Only 21 per cent of teens said they participated in an online challenge of any type.
“We encourage parents to speak to their children about the fact that committing an illegal act, all for the sake of online popularity or likes, can have consequences now and into the future,” Sangha said.
In relation to the Surrey incidents, Mounties said they’ll be patrolling parks to keep an eye on washroom facilities. Anyone with information about the recent vandalism is asked to call 604-599-0502.
With files from CTV News’ Hannah Jackson and CTV News London’s Bryan Bicknell