Men re-bailed as Met Police continue to investigate sign theft

By Thomas MackintoshBBC News

PA Media Banksy artworkPA MediaThe work was installed on a stop sign near Commercial Way in south London

Two men have been re-bailed until next month after a south London street sign featuring work by the elusive artist Banksy was removed.

The piece of street art – a red stop sign with three military drones on – was unveiled on Commercial Way, Peckham, on 22 December.

Within an hour it was removed in an incident the Metropolitan Police are treating as theft.

In an update, the Met says officers are still trying to track down the artwork.

One gallery owner told the BBC the artwork could be worth up to £500,000.

The sign was removed after Banksy confirmed it was genuine by posting a photo on his Instagram account.

Banksy’s Instagram followers widely interpreted the work as calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip after he confirmed the authenticity on his social media.

Similar drone art appeared at Banksy’s Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem in 2017 which he said had “the worst view of any hotel in the world” – referencing Israel’s controversial wall in the West Bank.

In the hours after the sign was taken down, the Met said a new traffic sign was put up to avoid endangering road users.

The Met said one man, aged in his 20s, was arrested on 23 December and a second man, aged in his 40s, was detained the following day.

Both were arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage, the Met said.

The force said the two men have been bailed pending further inquiries to return to a London police station in mid-March.

“This incident is being investigated by officers from the Met’s Central South criminal investigation department,” the Met said.

“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.”

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