Wichita, Kansas, police said Tuesday that an arrest was made nearly three weeks after a Jackie Robinson statue was stolen from a park – and found dismantled days later.
Ricky Alderete, 45, is charged with theft (value over $25,000), aggravated criminal damage to property, identity theft and providing false information. The statue, which police said was valued at $75,000, was stolen from McAdams Park, home of League 42, a youth baseball league for about 600 children that commissioned and installed the statue in 2021.
“The investigation revealed no evidence that this was a hate-motivated crime,” said Aaron Moses of the Wichita Police Department. “We believe this theft was motivated by financial gain from scrapping common metal.”
Bob Lutz, executive director of the nonprofit League 42 Foundation, said, “We feel good that someone will be held accountable, and I believe everyone involved will be arrested.”
The statue was cut at the ankles, leaving only bronze replicas of Robinson’s cleats on an otherwise barren base. Tony Workman, general manager of Art Castings of Colorado, which turned the original work into the bronze statue, told ESPN that the Robinson statue is 95% copper.
Moses also said police remain committed to identifying everyone involved in the crime.
“We know from the surveillance video [released shortly after the statue was reported missing on Jan. 25] “There were at least three people there when the statue was taken,” Moses said, “and we know it was taken somewhere where other people were present.”
On Jan. 28, police recovered a vehicle they believed was related to the case at an apartment complex in Wichita. Two days later, firefighters found burned remains of the statue while responding to a trash can fire at another park about 7 miles away.
Donations totaled nearly $300,000, Lutz said. Although the artist has died, the statue’s original mold still exists and is being used by Art Castings of Colorado to rebuild a new statue.
In a coordinated effort by its clubs, MLB will pay for it after several teams and individuals across the sport wanted to help.
Lutz said he expects the new statue to be completed by mid-summer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.