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Wichita police say 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.

“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 yesterday.

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

“This is a occurrence that should not have happened,” City councilmember Brandon Johnson said. “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 with the same mold as the original, made by Lutz’ late friend, John Parsons. The statue is estimated to cost $75,000. It was unveiled by the city in 2021.

A GoFundMe raised nearly $195,000 to replace the statue. Major League Baseball and its clubs have also pledged funding and support for its replacement.

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.
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