A new Banksy mural has been defaced within days of appearing in a quiet Suffolk seaside town sparking a police hunt for the culprit.
The artwork, featuring a rodent sipping a cocktail in a deckchair, was left by the anonymous artist on a wall at North Beach, Lowestoft, Suffolk, during his “Great British Spraycation” series.
But residents awoke on Sunday to find the piece had been covered in white paint in a vandalism East Suffolk Council described as “appalling”.
In a statement, the council said: “We are naturally appalled that someone has chosen to behave in such a selfish and mindless way given how excited we all are by the appearance of these works here on the east coast.
“We are, however, hopeful that this particular work can be restored, and are engaging with specialists.”
Suffolk Police said in a statement: “Police are appealing for witnesses to an incident of criminal damage in Lowestoft.
“It took place at some point between 5:35pm on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 August at just after midnight where a street mural painted by ‘Banksy’ was painted over with white paint.
“Police are keen to speak to anyone who visited the artwork after 5.30pm on the Saturday to help police with their investigation and to see if they could assist officers in their efforts to establish a more accurate time of when the offence took place.”
The council said prior to the rat art being confirmed as a genuine Banksy it had placed an order for protective materials to safeguard the piece.
It added: “In the interim, we have also employed security patrols to visit each site and on this occasion, our patrols actually interrupted the individual defacing this work and prevented any further damage occurring.
“We are very grateful for the huge goodwill of local people who are proud of these artworks, but we would kindly ask people not to try and repair the works themselves and to please leave this to professional restorers.”