Brazen thieves swipe new Banksy art in broad daylight after artist…
A new Banksy featuring three military drones on a stop sign appeared to be stolen in plain sight Friday — less than an hour after the incognito artist unveiled it.
Two unidentified men were pictured blatantly using bolt cutters to break the latest artwork off a traffic post in Peckham in south London on Friday afternoon, footage from the scene shows.
One of the men was spotted balancing on top of a rented bike so he could reach the sign, while the other man held it steady for him.
The pair then quickly fled the area with the artwork as stunned witnesses shouted for them to stop.
The incident unfolded soon after the elusive graffiti artist disclosed the location of his latest work with photos of it on Instagram just after 12.30 pm local time.
“You know there’s a geezer unbolting that right now ready to sell it on eBay,” a top commenter quickly replied, with “geezer” used in the UK as a term for any men, not just elderly ones.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the removal was part of a stunt organized by the mysterious artist, who did not appear to have addressed it.
London’s Metropolitan Police did not immediately respond to requests as to whether it was being investigated as theft.
A witness, only identified as Alex, told the Evening Standard there were a handful of people “sort of admiring it and taking pictures” when the men approached.
“This guy comes up and grabs it, we watched in awe as he bashed it. He put the Lime bike under the sign, stood on the Lime bike and tried to hit the sign, he hit it with his hands and it wasn’t going anywhere,” he said.
“He fell off the Lime bike at one point. He disappeared and went away and about two minutes later he reappeared with bolt cutters and just sort of tried and tried and tried while everyone was watching.”
The onlooker added: “He ripped it off and ran across the road and ran away. He said nothing. He didn’t seem to care that much about the art itself.”
Social media users speculated that the red STOP sign artwork was tied to the Israel-Palestine conflict amid calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Some had also predicted it would be stolen “pronto.”
“This sign will be stolen within the next few hours,” one Instagram user wrote just before the alleged theft.