Residents of Los Angeles woke up to a new year and a big change: their famous Hollywood sign reading "Hollyweed".

A vandal, dressed all in black, scaled the sign around 3am and threw huge white and black tarpaulins over the Os to make them look like Es.

LA police are investigating the incident, which was caught on security footage.

The vandal could face a misdemeanour trespassing charge if caught, officers said. Park rangers have since removed the tarpaulins.

The prank may be a nod to Californian voters approving Proposition 64 in November, which means the recreational use of marijuana will become legal from 2018.

Members of the public are forbidden from accessing the area around the landmark on top of Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills and it is surrounded by a fence.

The 50ft-tall sign has been changed to read "Hollyweed" by a prankster before – 41 years ago to the day.

On 1 January 1976 a college student used curtains to make the alteration.

The original sign was first put up in 1923 and read "Hollywoodland" to promote a housing development.

But the last four letters deteriorated and were removed in the late 1940s.

(c) Sky News 2017: Hollywood sign is altered to read ‘Hollyweed’