A second man has been arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage after the removal of a Banksy art installation.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said a man in his 40s was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of theft and criminal damage in connection with the removal of a Banksy art installation in Peckham, south-east London.

He remains in police custody.

A man in his 20s, arrested in connection with the incident on Saturday, has been bailed pending further inquiries until a date in mid-March, the force added.

The piece of street art – a traffic stop sign covered with three aircraft resembling military drones – is estimated to be worth around £500,000. 

It was installed at a junction in Peckham at midday on Friday.

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Less than an hour after Banksy confirmed via social media that it was genuine, witnesses saw the artwork being removed by a man with bolt cutters with footage of the incident going viral online.

Police confirmed that a replacement stop sign has since been put in place to avoid endangering road users.

The deputy leader of Southwark Council, Jasmine Ali, has since called for the piece to be returned so “everyone in the community can enjoy Banksy’s brilliant work”.

In a statement, Ms Ali said: “Of course Banksy picked Peckham, it’s already on the map when it comes to art and is a hotbed for creativity.

“It should not have been removed and we’d like it back so everyone in the community can enjoy Banksy’s brilliant work.

“We have reported the removal of our sign to the police to help get it back.”

The Herald: Banksy's Cut & Run exhibition in Glasgow attracted some 180,000 visitorsBanksy's Cut & Run exhibition in Glasgow attracted some 180,000 visitors (Image: Newsquest)

Photos from the scene, which have been widely circulated online, show a man wearing a red and black jacket using a Lime bike to prop himself up, with one foot placed on the saddle and the other on the handle bars, while the bike is held steady by another man.

A further image shows the man in red and black running in front of a white van with the stop sign after successfully managing to remove it.

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A 26-year-old man, who was identified only as Alex, told the PA news agency that onlookers had “watched in awe” as the man removed the artwork.

He said: “We said, ‘What are you doing?’ but no-one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen.

“We were all a bit bemused, there was some honking of car horns. 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.”

It is understood that Banksy is not behind the removal.

It comes just months after the famously secretive artist staged his first exhibition in 14 years over the summer at the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. 

The 10-week run, showcasing works from 1998 to 2003, attracted 180,000 visitors from around the world

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The Herald: A mural by Banksy depicting domestic violence was removed within hours of going on display earlier this yearA mural by Banksy depicting domestic violence was removed within hours of going on display earlier this year (Image: PA)

The latest theft is not the first time the artist’s work has been removed shortly after its installation.

A mural weighing 3.8 tonnes called Valentine’s Day Mascara appeared on the side of a house in Margate, Kent, on Valentine’s Day this year and was dismantled some hours later after Banksy had shared a series of photos of it online.

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

The exhibition features pieces including Girl With Balloon, Flower Thrower and Rude Copper and also focuses on Banksy’s Dismaland, The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem and recent works acknowledging the ongoing war in Ukraine.