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Statue of baseball legend Jackie Robinson stolen from Kansas park

‘Our community is devastated,’ Wichita police say

Bevan Hurley
Sunday 28 January 2024 20:13 GMT
Surveillance video of Jackie Robinson statue being stolen from Wichita park

Police in Kansas have appealed for help locating a statue of pioneering baseball player Jackie Robinson that was stolen from a youth baseball field in Wichita.

The prized bronze statue was cut off at the ankles and hauled away by two men in a truck from McAdams Park overnight on Thursday, Wichita Police Department said.

“Our community is devastated,” Wichita Police Department wrote on X.

Police chief Joe Sullivan told a news conference on Friday that he was “frustrated by the actions of those individuals who had the audacity to take the statute” from a park where families gathered to learn about an “American icon”.

“This should upset all of us,” Mr Sullivan said.

Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the long-defunct Negro Leagues before becoming the first baseball player of colour to play Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson called the theft “horrendous”, and said that city residents had been left hurt and angrered.

Only the shoes remain after thieves cut down and stole a Jackie Robinson statue in Wichita, Kansas (Wichita Police Department)

“Many people want to find those folks before law enforcement,” Mr Johnson said during the press conference, and called on those responsible to return the statue immediately.

Police released video surveillance footage of two men making off with the statue, and grainy images of the grey pick up truck used in the theft.

The Wichita Metro Crime Commission has offered a reward of up to $2,500 for tips leading to arrests and $5,000 for information leading to the recovery of the statue.

“Once the statue is returned, we also want the individuals who robbed our community of a treasure to be held accountable for their actions,” Mr Sullivan, the police chief, added.

“And I assure you, they will. The resources of the Wichita Police Department have been mobilised.”

Mr Sullivan called on salvage yards in the area to contact police if the statue is brought in for sale.

The theft was even more disturbing as it occurred days before the beginning of Black History Month, the police chief said.

A statue of Jackie Robinson has been stolen from a park in Wichita, Kansas (Wichita Police Department)

Little league nonprofit League 42, named after Robinson’s playing number with the Dodgers, paid about $50,000 for the model of him, Executive Director Bob Lutz said.

The sculpture was installed in 2021 in McAdams Park, where around 600 children play in the youth baseball league.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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