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Man arrested for Jackie Robinson statue theft, intended to sell it for scrap metal

Hugo Phan
Police Chief Joe Sullivan, with members of the Wichita City Council and League 42's executive director, announces additional arrests will be made in the theft of the Jackie Robinson statue.

Police are expected to make additional arrests in the case.

Wichita Police have made an arrest and formally charged a 45-year-old man in the theft of the Jackie Robinson statue from League 42’s youth baseball facility at McAdams Park.

Police said the suspect, Ricky Alderete, stole the statue to sell it for scrap metal. Officials said it was not a hate-motivated crime.

“If you try to take something from this community, it won't tolerate it,” Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said.

Alderete was arrested for felony theft, aggravated criminal damage to property, identity theft and making false information on Monday. He was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday.

The statue was found destroyed and on fire in a dumpster in Garvey Park, seven miles south from where it was stolen.

“This is a occurrence that should not have happened,” City Council member Brandon Johnson said during a news conference at City Hall. “We were all baffled and even talking earlier about why something like this would happen.
"Hopefully this is a testament to all who might think about doing something like this in the future.”

Police are expected to make additional arrests in the case.

Surveillance video from the theft shows at least three people were originally involved in the theft of the statue.

While the statue is not salvageable, the league is working on replacing it using the same mold as the original, which was created by the late John Parsons of Derby. The statue is estimated to cost $75,000. It was unveiled by the cityin 2021.

Donations poured in after the theft, approaching $300,000, said Bob Lutz, executive director League 42. Major League Baseball and its clubs have also pledged funding and support for its replacement.

Lutz has said that some of the extra money raised could enhance some of League 42's programming and facilities.

League 42 said the new statue will also include updates to the area surrounding it, including flower beds and enhanced security to prevent possible future thefts.

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.