Artist Robin Lee Was Arrested for Charging His iPhone

At least he didn't try to charge his phone at a Broadway show.


Artists having run-ins with the police seems to be a trend these days.

Take graffiti artist Shepard Fairey, who was charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property in Los Angeles just last week. Performance artist Milo Moiré was arrested in Paris for taking nude selfies with tourists. And let’s not forget Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, who was recently sentenced to over 12 years in prison for her satirical political drawings.

But the oddest incident we’ve come across lately may very well belong to painter Robin Lee. The crime? Lee alleges that it was for charging his iPhone on a London train.


Robin Lee’s arrest report.
Photo: Courtesy of Robin Lee.

On Friday, July 10, the London-based artist used a power socket on a train from Hackey Wick to Camden to charge his smartphone. Wired UK notes that London Overground train sockets are visibly marked for the exclusive use of its cleaners and their equipment. Lee was subsequently detained (and promptly let go) by the British Transport Police (BTP) on “suspicion of abstracting electricity.” The Guardian reports that this is an offence under section 13 of the Theft Act in 1968 and carries a maximum custodial sentence of five years.

In a statement to the London Evening Standard, Lee said he was confronted by a police community support officer before being handcuffed and sent to the station. “It was an overzealous community support officer,” he said. “The whole thing was just ridiculous.”

In the same article, a BTP spokesman stated that it was Lee’s “unacceptable behavior” as further grounds for the arrest.

Hey, at least Lee didn’t try to charge his phone during a Broadway show.

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