Peckham Banksy art removal: Met Police arrest man on suspicion of theft and criminal damage

Banksy's new art work was removed shortly after it was unveiled on Friday. Credit: PA

A man has been arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage after a Banksy installation was removed.

The piece of street art – a traffic stop sign covered with three aircraft resembling military drones – was revealed at the intersection of Southampton Way and Commercial Way in Peckham, south-east London at midday on Friday.

However, less than an hour after Banksy confirmed it was genuine by posting a photo of it on social media, witnesses saw the artwork being removed by a man with bolt cutters.

The Metropolitan Police said on Saturday that they received a report of theft and have since arrested a man who remains in custody.

The street artist offered no explanation for his work, but it appears to be a reference to Israel's war in Gaza. Credit: @Banksy/Instagram

A spokesperson for the police added: “This incident is currently being investigated by officers from the Met’s Central South CID.

“We are aware of footage being shared which shows the sign being removed.

“Anyone who may have information about the incident or the whereabouts of the sign is asked to call police.”

The stop sign has since been replaced to avoid endangering road users, police confirmed.

Following its removal, the deputy leader of Southwark Council, Jasmine Ali, called for the piece to be returned so “everyone in the community can enjoy Banksy’s brilliant work”.

In a statement, Ms Ali said: “Of course Banksy picked Peckham, it’s already on the map when it comes to art and is a hotbed for creativity.

“It should not have been removed and we’d like it back so everyone in the community can enjoy Banksy’s brilliant work."

While the artist didn't provide any explanation on his Instagram page, the work has been interpreted as calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

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