A recurring stunt involving young pranksters aggressively kicking or pounding on the doors of randomly targeted houses has homeowners fearing for their safety.
It appears the former childhood “ding-dong ditch” prank reemerged as part of a TikTok challenge called the “Door Kick Challenge."
In the challenge, participants kick or knock on doors synced to two beats following the lyrics to Kesha's song, "Die Young," in which the artist sings, "I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums."
The participants then run away as fast as they can before getting caught.
The popular TikTok challenge commonly took place in college dorms, like in the clip, below.
Two🐤 one stone #fyp #college
But now, the “Door Kick Challenge” has extended to neighborhoods where homeowners who experience the stunts at night could possibly interpret them as something more intentionally malicious.
One Florida couple was watching TV in the living at 8:20 Saturday night when they were startled by a hooded prankster, who was caught on their Ring doorbell camera kicking their door and fleeing off into the night.
Homeowner Denise Marrs described the incident as "absolute terror. It was terrifying. I mean, I can’t even express how scary it was."
You can watch the Fox 35 news report, here.
When they watched the Ring footage and realized it was a prank, their fear turned to anger.
"All of the above – I’m mad, I’m frustrated, I’m annoyed," said Marrs.
Her husband, Doug Marrs, sees no humor in the prank.
"We used to do a doorbell ditch type of thing but I think this is way worse than that."
"It’s not funny. You could have gotten hurt, we could have gotten hurt, some other houses – probably would have gotten hurt."
Caren Crew from Orlando told Fox 35 she also was a victim of the prank, but her door actually sustained damage from being kicked in.
"All I see is particles of my door flying into the living room. We get up and it’s a group of kids in the neighborhood that are just kicking in doors."
The news station said Melbourne Police have not confirmed if the disturbances were related to social media or not.
Social media users, however, believe the viral challenge could be influencing impressionable youngsters.
Over in Petaluma, California, the Petaluma Police Department began alerting schools, parents and community members about the social media prank after two 911 calls came from residences who experienced the disturbance.
"While in theory this challenge seems harmless, its segway into our community has caused some realistic safety concerns," wrote the PPD on their Facebook page.
"We are advising all parents to caution their children on the dangers and legal consequences of this activity. As the challenge most notably occurs at night, teenagers must understand that the existence of real-life home invasions may put them in grave danger."
"Naturally, homeowners who are victims of this door kicking challenge might assume that someone is breaking into their residence, thus causing them to defend their family and/or their property with violence."
Jennifer Pritchard of the PPD warned those who may not be aware of the TikTok challenge may respond to the prank as "a real life or death situation," adding those participating in the challenge "don't know which door" they're about to kick."
Pritchard explained what the consequences of engaging in the challenge would be.
"…and you don't know what ways they'll protect that could cause real, real harm. When people think their home or their family is threatened, they are going to give an equal response to protect their property or family."
"There are felonies or misdemeanors involved when there's property damage. We don't want these consequences to occur."
"They [students] sometimes don’t have the life experience to think about that and we aren’t putting them down for it...we are just trying to be preemptive, positive and thoughtful in our message so everyone involved understands what’s going on and are responsible for their safety."
The PPD continued mentioning trespassing and property damages make the challenge activity "illegal and individuals may be charged with a variety of misdemeanors or felonies related to vandalism and breaking or entering crime."
They additionally said community members with special needs or senior citizens residing in a home where the challenge takes place can cause them to experience severe trauma and anxiety "especially if a person is unaware of this TikTok trend and believes they are in actual physical danger."