Benefits Street: James Turner street sign snatched

Residents think the thieves may attempt to sell the street marker on the internet

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The Independent Online

A street sign for the area made infamous in the Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street has been stolen.

Thieves are thought to have taken the sign in the early hours of Wednesday morning, leaving behind only a bare metal stand, which is nailed to the wall outside the Oasis Foundry Academy School, in Birmingham.

There were suggestions that the sign was stolen by souvenir hunters, who could try and flog it on the internet.

West Midlands Police said they had not received any reports of the theft.

Ray Bennett, who has been a lollipop man on James Turner Street for nine years, told the Mirror: "I can't believe the sign has gone.

"I got here this morning at about 8am and the sign wasn't there. I reckon maybe someone took it just to say they had it, you know for the glory of it.

"You cannot believe how many people stop here to have their picture taken with it.

"It is just continuous. It could have been the council I suppose who took it to stop people coming here.

"It would be tough to get off as it is riveted on."

Another resident added: "It was only a matter of time before the street sign was nicked. It's been seen around the world so will probably go for a few quid on eBay.

"Residents around here are worried their door numbers might be ripped off by souvenir hunters.

"I met one girl who travelled all the way down from Scotland to have her picture taken by the sign and meet White Dee and other residents.

"It's a huge show and has generated a lot of fans. Since the show aired the number of taxis bringing tourists down the street has gone through the roof.

"I wasn't ever featured in the show because I didn't want the fame but some of the residents like White Dee are considered celebrities now.

"It's crazy how the show has changed people's lives."

Earlier this week, Channel 4 confirmed that Benefits Street will return for a second series, but will be filmed in a new location.

The controversial documentary has been a ratings hit, but has been criticised for its portrayal of those dependent on welfare.

Some of the show's residents said they were misrepresented in the series.

Channel 4 has denied these claims, telling BBC Newsnight they were "very clear and transparent with everyone on the street about what the nature of the programme was, why we were there, and what the end product was".