Man Arrested in Connection with Theft of Jackie Robinson Statue in Wichita Park

In a press conference held on Tuesday, the Wichita Police Department announced the arrest of Ricky Alderete, 45, in connection with the theft of a Jackie Robinson statue from McAdams Park in Wichita, Kansas on January 25. Alderete has been charged with felony theft and making false information.

League 42, a nonprofit organization that erected the bronze Jackie Robinson statue at the park in 2021, initially expressed concerns that the theft might have been a racially-motivated hate crime. However, the police investigation has not revealed any evidence to support this theory. Instead, authorities believe that the motive behind the theft was the financial gain from scrapping common metal.

Detectives conducted approximately 100 interviews during their investigation to determine the identity of the perpetrator and the reasons behind the crime. Alderete allegedly cut the statue off at the ankles and loaded it onto a pickup truck. The remains of the statue were later discovered by the Wichita Fire Department, dismantled, burned, and deemed unsalvageable in a small trash fire.

Scrap metal thefts have been on the rise in recent years due to the increasing prices of metals like bronze and copper. A report from Market Research Future highlights the surge in such thefts, with incidents occurring across the country. Last month, a bronze plaque was stolen from Bruce’s Beach in Los Angeles, further highlighting the ongoing issue.

Following the theft, League 42 launched an online campaign that raised $194,780 to replace the vandalized statue. However, on February 1, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that it would be replacing the statue and providing funds to League 42 to support their on-field and academic initiatives. The MLB’s contribution will also be used to enhance security around the statue area and improve the playing fields with new lights and artificial turf.

The arrest of Alderete brings some closure to the investigation into the theft of the Jackie Robinson statue. The authorities’ focus on financial gain as the motive highlights the prevalence of scrap metal thefts in recent years. The replacement of the statue by the MLB demonstrates their commitment to preserving the legacy of Jackie Robinson and supporting League 42’s efforts to empower underserved youth.

 

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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