Man charged over theft of Jackie Robinson’s statue in Kansas… after life-size bronze of baseball icon was cut off, stolen and destroyed
- The statue of Robinson was stolen from a Wichita, Kansas park in January
- Ricky Alderete, 45, was charged with multiple charges, including theft
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A man has been charged with stealing a statue depicting pioneering baseball player Jackie Robinson, police said Tuesday, adding that they believe the incident was not motivated by hate but rather financial gain.
The life-size bronze of Robinson, who in 1947 became the first black man to play in Major League Baseball, was stolen from a Wichita, Kansas park in January and parts of it were later burned and found in a trash can.
Only the statue’s feet remained at McAdams Park; where about 600 kids play in a youth baseball league called League 42, named after Robinson’s uniform number with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It was during his time in Brooklyn that the baseball icon broke MLB’s color barrier.
One month after the incident, Ricky Alderete, 45, was hit with four felony counts of theft (value over $25,000), aggravated criminal damage to property, identity theft and providing false information regarding the theft of the statue.
A man has been charged with the theft of Jackie Robinson’s statue in Wichita, Kansas
The life-size bronze of Robinson, who in 1947 became the first black man to play in Major League Baseball, was cut off at the ankles, stolen and destroyed last month
However, the police believe that Alderete’s alleged actions were motivated solely by financial gain.
‘The investigation did not reveal any evidence to suggest that this was a hate crime. Instead, we believe this theft was motivated by the financial gain of scrapping base metal,’ the Wichita Police Department said in a news release.
“Our detectives remain committed to gathering information to identify and charge all individuals involved in the theft and destruction of the Jackie Robinson statue.”
The police said the suspect, who is currently in custody, was charged on several charges on Monday.
The statue, which commemorated Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, was cut at his ankles and hauled away in a truck. Pieces of it were later discovered beyond repair by firefighters responding to a report of a fire.
Robinson was known for overcoming racial hatred in a widely segregated society. He was a six-time All-Star with Brooklyn and won a World Series title in 1955, the first for the big franchise.
Donations poured in at the end of January to replace the destroyed statue of Robinson on what would have been his 105th birthday.
The total raised through one online fundraiser at one point surpassed $145,000, far exceeding the estimated $75,000 value of the bronze statue that was cut from its base.