The Metropolitan Police on Friday confirmed the arrest of a man under suspicion of theft and criminal damage, following the removal of a road sign featuring artwork by the elusive street artist Banksy.
The piece, a red stop sign adorned with three military drones, was unveiled at the intersection of Commercial Way in Peckham, south-east London, on Friday.
Ongoing investigations are being conducted by the Met, initiated after Southwark Council reported the theft. The detained individual remains in custody.
The local authority has since erected a new traffic sign to ensure the safety of road users.
The Metropolitan Police admitted the circulation of footage depicting the sign’s removal, urging individuals with information to contact them.
A video circulating on social media shows a man using bolt cutters to liberate the artwork from a Lime hire bike, after which he swiftly disappeared from view.
In response to the incident, a local street artist placed her reproduction of the missing Banksy artwork at the location on Saturday afternoon, emphasising the inclusive nature of art.
Meanwhile, the reproduction artwork was, interpreted by many of Banksy’s Instagram followers as a call for a ceasefire in Gaza, echoes similar drone art displayed at his Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem in 2017.
Following the removal, Southwark Council’s deputy leader, Jasmine Ali, confirmed reporting the incident to the police and expressed confidence in the artwork’s eventual return. She emphasised the significance of the piece, stating, “We are not just talking about a street sign here, it is a work of art which was put there for the community. It is street art and it is for the people.”