Banksy artwork stolen less than an hour after unveiling in south London

Theguardian_ Two men have been filmed taking an artwork created by Banksy from a south London street less than an hour after it was confirmed as a genuine installation.

The artist confirmed the piece – a traffic stop sign covered with three aircraft said to resemble military drones – was his in a social media post shortly after midday on Friday.

In a video shared on social media, onlookers watch as two men are seen taking down the sign at the intersection of Southampton Way and Commercial Way in Peckham at about 12.30pm.

Witnesses can be heard saying “oh my god” on the soundtrack of the video as one of men takes the stop sign and runs off, with one woman saying: “It makes me so annoyed.”

The deputy leader of Southwark council, Jasmine Ali, said the artwork “should not have been removed”, adding: “We’d like it back so everyone in the community can enjoy Banksy’s brilliant work.” She said the theft had been reported to the police “to help get it back”.

The Metropolitan police said they were aware of the incident and said the stop sign was replaced later on Friday to avoid endangering road users.

It is understood Banksy was not behind the removal.

A selection of photos had been uploaded to the artist’s Instagram page without a caption or explanation, confirming its authenticity.

Due to the prominence of the artist, selling a stolen Banksy can be difficult. Last year, three men in their 30s were imprisoned in France for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

Six months later, in a separate incident, eight people were detained over the theft of a Banksy mural from a wall on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said.

Banksy will issue certificates of authenticity to artworks that are not deemed to be stolen or improperly taken into private hands, through the artist’s Pest Control team, which handles authentication.

In 2019, a man who had taken a Banksy sculpture from a plinth in central London contacted the police after it was stolen from him and was put up for sale at Sotheby’s auction house.

The auction notes for The Drinker stated the work was “mysteriously retrieved”, suggesting it was taken by Banksy or his associates and, after consulting the police, Sotheby’s said it was satisfied the seller had a legal right to put the piece up for auction.

The aircraft on the stop sign resembled those from Banksy’s 2017 artwork Civilian Drone Strike, which depicted a trio of drones bombing a childlike drawing of a house. It was auctioned at Art The Arms Fair and raised £205,000 for Reprieve and Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Banksy has installed some other pieces this year, including Valentine’s Day Mascara, a mural weighing 3.8 tonnes, which appeared on the side of a house in Margate, Kent, on Valentine’s Day. The mural depicted a 1950s housewife with a swollen eye and missing tooth, wearing an apron and yellow washing-up gloves, and throwing a man into a chest freezer.

In September, it was placed in the foyer of the Art of Banksy exhibition in Regent Street, central London, where it can be viewed for free.