Suspect Arrested in Relation to the Theft and Destruction of Bronze Jackie Robinson Statue in Kansas Park

Wichita Police recently announced that a 45-year-old man was arrested in connection with the theft of a bronze Jackie Robinson statue from a city park in Kansas. The statue was cut from its base at the ankles on January 26 and found five days later in a trash can after it had been set on fire.

Ricky Alderete was charged on February 12 with four counts related to the theft and a 2022 case, according to a report from the Associated Press. Police said the intention of the theft was to sell the bronze for its scrap value, and that there was no evidence of a “hate-motivated crime”.

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Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan told the AP that Alderete was “only the first arrest,” but did not specify how police determined the 45-year-old was a suspect.

Thieves cut the statue of the historic major league baseball player from its base at McAdams Park, leaving only its feet.

The park is the home for League 42, a youth baseball league named after Robinson’s uniform number with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson died in 1972.

On January 31, fire crews found the burned remains of the Robinson statue inside a trash can located in another park in the city about 7 miles away. The state of the remains meant they could not be salvaged.

Police said surveillance video captured the theft of the statue, and there were three individuals involved. A truck that was believed to have been used to transport the statue was found abandoned.

For the theft of the Robinson statue, Alderete has been charged with felony theft and aggravated criminal damage to property, with a bond set at $150,000. The AP also reported that Alderete faces additional charges of identity theft and making false information for an incident involving a pawn ticket from 2022.

After the theft of the statue, donations poured in to help replace it, with nearly $200,000 raised on GoFundMe. Major League Baseball and its clubs also pledged to help replace the statue and support League 42.

The estimated cost to recast the original mold of the statue from artist John Parsons is $50,000 to $75,000.

The executive director of the Little League non-profit that commissioned the sculpture, Bob Lutz, told the AP the additional funds raised could be used to enhance some of its programming and facilities.

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