New TikTok 'door-kicking' craze had law enforcement watching

A new video craze sweeping TikTok has law enforcement watching. 

It's the "door kicking" challenge, in which young people kick someone's door as a popular Kesha song plays, and then run away.

The prank began in college dorms, but is popping up in neighborhoods where it presents safety concerns.

"We don't want students harmed and we don't want community members to overreact," said Jennifer Pritchard, of the Petaluma Police Department.

Pritchard has been using social media and school contacts to warn against the random door-kicking.    

"Homeowners have been angry that their property was damaged and they have called our dispatch center and asked us to respond."

 Two 911 calls came in over the Thanksgiving holiday, from a northeast Petaluma neighborhood.

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One door was kicked in with enough force it needed hundreds of dollars in repairs.

Surveillance video from that house suggests it was a young person participating in the video challenge.

"You can see why this activity could be scary to a homeowner who could think it's a real home invasion," said Pritchard. "Parents can help their children understand they should not participate and we also want the community know they shouldn't react with a violent response."

Other recent challenges on the TikTok platform urged youth to slap a teacher or vandalize school property, in order to share the video as a trophy.

"A soap dispenser was stolen from our school bathroom so we see the effects, but my friends and I don't do these," said Lino Gomez-Fernandez, 13, on a Petaluma bike ride with his father Tuesday evening.

"It's just common sense if a kid sees one of these dares," added Gomez-Fernandez, "because kicking in a door is illegal, a crime and you could get punished or fined or even jail time."

The teenager and his father watch TikTok together.

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They believe responsibility for reckless behavior lies with parents failing to monitor what their children watch- and do.

"I will not blame TikTok, it's just a sign of our times," said David Gomez-Rosado, "because those type of dares have always been with us, always been dangerous, but seem amplified, because of social media."

TikTok has been under increasing pressure to curb the challenges and hoaxes that can put its young users at risk.

Management said this month it's planning to become more pro-active.

Petaluma Police hope public awareness will quell the door-kicking trend before it spreads further and someone gets hurt.

"You're crossing someone's threshold and you are banging on their door in a world where home invasions are not unusual," cautioned Pritchard.  "That puts safety at risk and that is not a good idea for anyone."

Police want to hear from other residents who experienced door-kicking but didn't report it.

They caution youth, the consequences of what seems a silly prank can be serious.

"These are criminal acts, vandalism, breaking and entering, and property damage and punishable by law," warned Pritchard.