By The Associated Press on December 23, 2023.
LONDON (AP) – Detectives are investigating the alleged theft of a Banksy work of art after witnesses shot photos and video of a man removing a red stop sign adorned with three military drones, London police said Saturday.
The sign was taken less than an hour after the elusive street artist posted a photo of the work on his Instagram page Friday.
Video showed a man with bolt cutters climbing up on a bicycle to remove the work from a sign post on a street corner in the Peckham area of south London while another man steadied the bike. The man who cut the sign free then ran off with it in his hand.
A voice on a video of the incident could be heard saying, “it makes me so annoyed,” as the man ran away.
A witness who only wanted to be called Alex told the PA news agency that the small crowd of people that had shown up to view the work stood around watching as the scene unfolded.
“We said, “˜What are you doing? But no one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen,” Alex said. “We were all a bit bemused; there was some honking of car horns.”
The Metropolitan Police asked for help from anyone with information about the reported theft. No arrest had been made by late Saturday afternoon.
Jasmine Ali, deputy leader of the local borough council, called for the piece to be returned.
“It should not have been removed and we’d like it back so everyone in the community can enjoy Banksy’s brilliant work,” Ali said.
The stop sign was replaced.
Banksy’s thought-provoking and satirical art often takes aim at war. Many of his followers on Instagram interpreted the work as calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.