Wichita (Kan.) police announced Tuesday that they have arrested and charged a 45-year-old man in the theft of a Jackie Robinson statue from a youth baseball field last month.
Ricky Angel Alderete was taken into custody earlier on an unrelated case and was later charged in this case with "felony theft valued at over $25,000, aggravated criminal damage to property, identity theft and making false information," according to The Wichita Eagle. He is currently jailed on $150,000 bond.
The reason for the theft, according to police, appears to be financial and not motivated by race.
“The investigation has not revealed any evidence indicating this was a hate-motivated crime,” police Lt. Aaron Moses said during Tuesday's news conference. “Instead, we believe this theft was motivated by the financial gain of scrapping common metal.”
Moses added that they will continue to seek and arrest "all individuals" who took part in the theft and dismantling of the 275-pound bronze statue.
From the Associated Press:
Asked how many others might face charges, Moses said three people were seen on the surveillance video. He also noted that the statue was taken to a location where others were present. He said he could offer no further details because it was an active investigation.
The statue was built for League 42, a program founded by executive director Bob Lutz in 2013. It stood at the entry point of several baseball fields as a beacon to the community, as he created the space in McAdams Park in Wichita, Kansas, hoping to make baseball more accessible for every kid.
I would love to someday have a conversation with Ricky Alderete.
— Bob Lutz (@boblutz) February 13, 2024
Burned remnants of the statue, which was valued at $75,000, were found days later at a park 7 miles away.
Once news of the statue's theft and destruction went public, donations began pouring in via assistance from Major League Baseball and a GoFundMe, which has raised close to $195,000. According to Lutz, the combined total is near $300,000.
Lutz said any extra funds after the statue is replaced will go toward boosting League 42's programming and facilities, including new surveillance cameras and improved lighting around the park.
Art Castings of Colorado in Loveland, Colorado, which built the Robinson statue, still has the original mold and will cast it to build the new one.