Wichita police recover truck thought to have been used in theft of Jackie Robinson statue

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Wichita police found and recovered the pickup they think was used to help steal a bronze statue of Jackie Robinson that stood at McAdams Park.

WPD property crimes detectives assisted by the field community response teams found the vehicle somewhere in Wichita, Wichita police Lt. Aaron Moses said in a Tuesday news release.

Moses added that the truck, which was found abandoned, was not reported stolen but would not say where specifically it was found in Wichita.

“As this is still an extremely active investigation, the information we can release is limited,” Moses said in an email. He also would not say if the truck had Kansas plates.

A photo of the truck provided by police appears to be a early 2000s GMC Sierra. Surveillance camera video provided by League 42 shows a dark-colored short-bed truck involved in the theft.

League 42 is a nonprofit organization in Wichita that serves several hundred low-income youth in its baseball league every year.

The statue, which is valued at $75,000 and was installed in 2021, was stolen sometime around midnight Thursday. Vandals cut the statue at the feet and then loaded it in a truck.

“This league has struck a chord which is why the fallout from this will be profound,” executive director and founder of League 42 Bob Lutz said. “I have no idea what the motive was ... Whatever it was was misdirected and shameful.”

On Saturday, Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan, who formerly served in the Philadelphia Police Department, said someone through a connection he has in Philadelphia pledged $10,000 to help repair the original statue or build a new one.

That person, who wished to remain anonymous, is a former Major League Baseball player who won a World Series, The Eagle reported.

A GoFundMe has also been created to help replace the statue. “Money donated will go directly to this cause. Any donations that exceed our goal will be put to use to fund our operational needs, including our four education programs,” the fundraiser said.

“As law enforcement searches for the statue and the culprits of this crime, we remain devoted to our mission of providing low-cost baseball and education opportunities for our 600 kids, ages 5-14,” Lutz said.

Anyone with information about the theft is encouraged to call detectives at 316-268-4407, Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111 or the See Something, Say Something hotline at 316-519-2282.

News of the theft has made headlines in the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN.

From $2 to $10K, people donate money after theft of Wichita’s Jackie Robinson statue