By Vivek Chaudhary and Rory Tingle Home Affairs Correspondent and Madeleine Ross
18:30 22 May 2023, updated 09:41 23 May 2023
- An 18-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing public nuisance
An 18-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance following reports of a TikTok ‘prankster’ filming himself bursting into homes uninvited.
The teenager, who is believed to be behind a series of vile ‘pranks’ that have included stealing a woman’s dog, ripping up library books and jumping into strangers’ cars, is being held in police custody.
In the latest sick prank, he films himself seemingly picking up an elderly woman’s dog and running away while laughing. He later returns to the animal to its owner, who is visibly distressed.
Further videos appear to show him harassing women on a train and in a park; walking into a library and destroying books; and riding an e-bike through Sainsbury’s while security guards try to stop him.
He was filmed by friends in the moments before police hauled him away after officers travelled to his home, which he shares with his mother, yesterday afternoon, following an online furore over his social media videos.
In a statement on Monday night, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that a teenager had been arrested following an investigation into footage shared online.
‘The arrest follows an investigation into social media footage which featured a number of incidents, including apparently unsolicited approaches made towards members of the public in the street or on transport, and entering addresses without the apparent permission of the owners.’
Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway of the Central East Command Unit, responsible for policing in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: ‘I do not underestimate the widespread upset, distress and concern that these videos caused.
‘Some people have referred to these as “prank” videos, but I hope that this significant development demonstrates just how seriously we have been taking this investigation since this footage began circulating online.
‘A number of these videos were produced, impacting on many different people and our investigation remains ongoing as we seek to build a strong picture of both the activity featured in the footage and impact on the public.’
One officer previously told MailOnline: ‘We’ve been looking for him for a number of days but each time we visit the property, he’s never in.
‘He’s very well known around here and we’ve had to visit his home in the past to speak to him several times about his conduct. We can’t go into any details about the exact reason why we want to speak to him. I can’t say if any further action will follow.’
The TikTok account in question has been taken down.
His YouTube page, which had nearly 39,000 subscribers, has also been removed, with a message saying it had breached the platform’s terms of service.
In the last video, posted yesterday, the ‘prankster’ boasted of how his videos had ‘blown up’ since the outrage at his ‘home invasion’ video.
And he crowed that criticism of his sick stunts was only helping him by generating more views and engagement.
‘You guys are on social media giving me what you want. You’re commenting on these videos, engaging… it’s making my ting blow up,’ he says.
A friend then appears and tells the camera: ‘All you’re doing is aiding our mission… it’s still reinforcing the narrative of the message we’re trying to say… it’s a movement, bro.’
MPs had joined calls for the Met to take urgent action to stop him.
Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones said: ‘This content is disturbing and upsetting.
‘Yet another example of how we desperately need the Online Safety Bill to hold the social media platforms to account.
‘YouTube and TikTok seem happy to allow this irresponsible content to proliferate on their platforms. It’s unacceptable.’
Susan Hall, the leader of the Tory group at the London Assembly, said: ‘No legitimate social media platform should be hosting this thug’s vile videos.
‘Please can you urgently update the public as to what is being done to locate and apprehend this criminal.’
On Sunday, the Met told the Express they were ‘aware of footage circulating on social media and are investigating the circumstances’.
They added: ‘Officers are conducting enquiries to establish the locations and those involved.
‘We are keen to speak to anyone with any information that could assist. Please contact police on 101 or via @MetCC and quote CAD4160/16May.’
A TikTok spokesman said: ‘Our Community Guidelines are clear that we prohibit content promoting criminal activity. In relation to this issue, we have banned accounts for violating these guidelines.’