A mural of a maid sweeping, created by graffiti artist Banksy.

“Maid Sweeping” by Banksy.
Photo credit: BMCL / Shutterstock

Ever wonder how graffiti artist Banksy managed to avoid getting arrested all these years? One would think that he would have racked up quite a few vandalism charges by now.

According to Steve Lazarides⁠—who served as Banksy’s photographer, strategist, and minder for 11 years⁠—the two devised several scams for evading arrest.

“The secret is hi-vis jackets and traffic cones,” Lazarides told the Guardian. “Nobody stops you if you have them.”

But even then, they always had a backup plan just in case.

“Once I gave him a letter saying he had permission from a film producer to paint a wall. And I would be the film producer, armed with a burner phone,” Lazarides recounted. “If I got a call, I was primed to say, ‘Sorry mate, I meant him to do the other side of the street.’”

Lazarides recalled one particular instance in which they came very close to getting caught. It happened in New York’s Meatpacking District. A few transgender sex workers saw Banksy painting on a wall and took offense to his work.

“Some of them misconstrued what he was writing as homophobic and called the cops,” Lazarides explained. “That’s about as close to getting arrested as we got.”

Although he and Banksy hardly talk anymore, Lazarides denied that there was a falling out, adding that there is a “mutual respect” between them. Lazarides even got Banksy’s blessing to publish his new book, “Banksy Captured,” which includes photos he took while travelling the world with the renegade artist, who he refers to as “Matey Boy.”

“I had the time of my life,” Lazarides reminisced. “We were lawless and did just what we wanted. Matey Boy had a political agenda that you can see very clearly in everything he does, but I just had a fucking blast.”