Man arrested in Jackie Robinson statue theft

Man arrested in Jackie Robinson statue theft

A man has been arrested in connection with the Jan. 25 theft of a Jackie Robinson statue from McAdams Park in Wichita, Kansas, police announced in a news conference on Tuesday.

Ricky Alderete, 45, has been charged with felony theft and making false information, police said. Detectives conducted 100 interviews while investigating the theft to find out who –and why– the crime was committed, police said.

League 42, the nonprofit organization who put up the bronze Jackie Robinson statue at the park in 2021, was initially concerned the statute –one of only four of the famed athlete in the nation– was stolen and vandalized in a racially-motivated hate crime.

A Jackie Robinson statue was stolen from McAdams Park in Wichita Kansas on Jan. 25, 2024. / Credit: Wichita Police Department
A Jackie Robinson statue was stolen from McAdams Park in Wichita Kansas on Jan. 25, 2024. / Credit: Wichita Police Department

Police said in a statement that the "investigation has not revealed any evidence indicating that this was a hate-motivated crime." Instead, police believe the "theft was motivated by the financial gain of scrapping common metal."

Thieves often steal bronze, copper and other metals to resell it to scrap yards. Scrap metal thefts have been on the rise in recent years as prices of metals like bronze have increased, according to a report from Market Research Future. Last month in Los Angeles, a bronze plaque was stolen from Bruce's Beach as the county struggles with a rise in metal theft.

Alderete allegedly cut the Jackie Robinson statue off at the ankles and put it on a pickup truck, police said. The statue's remains were found by the Wichita Fire Department dismantled, burned and unsalvageable in a small trash fire.

League 42, which was founded in 2013 and named after Robinson's jersey number, raised $194,780 through an online campaign launched to replace the statue. But on Feb. 1 the MLB said that the league and its clubs will replace the vandalized statue. Funds will also be provided to League 42 to support the nonprofit's on-field and academic work, according to the league's announcement.

League 42 Executive Director Bob Lutz said donated funds will be used "to operate our facilities and education initiatives" for underserved youth and "to install better security around the statue area and new lights and artificial turf for two of our playing fields."

Simrin Singh contributed to this report.

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