A one tonne, £200,000 bronze statue stolen for scrap has been found safe in Streatham.

Officers from the Met's art and antiques unit found the Transformation-Tree of life statue by artist Helaine Blumenfield chained to fire escape railings in the garden of a block of flats on July 10, two years after it was stolen from a fine art trader in 2005.

Detective Constable Michelle Roycroft said officers believed the thieves had taken the statue to sell it for scrap metal but it had somehow escaped destruction.

"This is a significant recovery of valuable bronze sculpture," she said.

"We can never underestimate the monetary and emotional value of pieces like this to the art world and we would encourage the public to always make the appropriate checks when purchasing works of art."

Artist Helaine Blumenfield said she had been devastated when the work disappeared in 2005.

"I am absolutely delighted that the Met police's art and antiques unit have managed to find and return this work to me," she said.

"This piece was a labour of love for me and I was devastated when it disappeared in 2005.

"The police have saved this work from being melted down and being lost forever to the art world and to me.

"Starting in July 2005 with the theft of my sculpture Transformation, a bronze sculpture weighing over a tonne and standing more than seven feet tall, the London art world has been plagued by a series of sculptural thefts: Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick bronzes stolen after this one have yet to be recovered.

"I hope this will lead to the recovery of other pieces as well and I am full of admiration for the detective work that has managed to recover my sculpture."

There have so far been no arrests in relation to the statue find and DC Roycroft said inquiries were continuing.