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Banksy artwork stolen in London; suspect arrested

The mysteries of Banksy
The mysteries of Banksy 10:03

A man suspected of stealing an artwork by Banksy of a stop sign adorned with three military drones, was arrested Saturday, London police said.

A man in his 20s was in custody on suspicion of theft and criminal damage, the Metropolitan police said.

The sign was taken less than an hour after the elusive street artist posted a photo of the work on his Instagram page Friday.

Banksy unveils new art work
A person removes a piece of art work by Banksy, which shows what looks like three drones on a traffic stop sign, after it was unveiled at the intersection of Southampton Way and Commercial Way in London's Peckham neighborhood. Dec. 22, 2023. Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

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 in awe 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."

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 Israel-Hamas war.

The artist, who has remained anonymous since the 1990s, revealed in a recently unearthed 2003 radio interview with BBC reporter Nigel Wrench that his first name was "Robbie."

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