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Artist's Tributes to 9/11 Victims Stolen From Subway Station

Every year for more than a decade, artist Keith De Cesare has posted images he created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in and around the new World Trade Center.

And every year, New Yorkers and those attending the annual September 11 anniversary events have gotten to appreciate De Cesare's tributes to the attack's victims, survivors and first responders.

Until this year. 

That's because someone ripped down all 31 images De Cesare and his family posted in the Chambers Street - World Trade Center subway station on the 16th anniversary of the attacks last week, leaving only a shred of one of the prints hanging on the tiled wall of a platform. 

"That's all that's left," he lamented as he pulled at the ripped peice of art. "I was shocked. I was speechless."

De Cesare began creating the works not long after he saw smoke pouring from the twin towers from his West Village apartment's rooftop on Sept. 11, 2001, according to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

The work he created that afternoon later became known as the "Firefighters Angel," which to this day hangs on the so-called Last Column, the final beam removed from ground zero, at the museum. 

He created many more angel-themed works in the days and weeks that followed and posted them at a viewing platform at ground zero. And later, his works became fixtures inside the Chambers Street station every September.

"I'm experiencing this response from the general public and the family members and even police officers walking by there saying, 'Thank you for this,'" he said.

But at least one person had a different tone when he hung up the works this year. He said a group of 9/11 truthers -- conspiracy theorists who believe the U.S. government was somehow involved or complicit in the attack -- made threats about the artwork. 

It's not clear if the group was behind the thefts, but De Cesari appears to be unbowed by the crime. He has been hanging up other prints every day since the original ones disappeared and taking them down at the end of the day. 

"Please return them," he pleaded. "No questions asked."

Police are investigating the thefts. Anyone with information about the stolen works should call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-577-TIPS.

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