Jackie Robinson statue stolen from Kansas park found burned in trash: 'Heartbreaking discovery'


The charred remains of a stolen bronze Jackie Robinson statue were found Tuesday inside a trash can in a Kansas park, authorities said.

A police spokesman said during a raid that pieces of the statue were thrown in the garbage and set on fire in Garvey Park in Wichita. Press conference broadcast by KWCH.

Fire crews were called to the scene around 8:40 a.m. on Tuesday and made the discovery after putting out the flames in a trash can.

“This was a heartbreaking discovery this morning,” Wichita Councilman Brandon Johnson said during the news conference. “I hate to see that the statue wasn't in one piece, but I want everyone to know that we will not hesitate to make sure this statue is rebuilt and put back there.”

Most of the statue was gone last Thursday night after it was cut off at the ankles at the 42 League Baseball Fields in McAdams Park, which is also home to Jackie Robinson Pavilion.

Firefighters found a statue of Jackie Robinson after extinguishing the trash fire. Wichita Police Department/Facebook

This precious statue honors the first Major League Baseball player to break the color barrier in 1947 when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

No arrests have been made.

Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said burning the statue is a direct response to the pressure investigators are putting on the thieves.

Surveillance footage shows the silver truck in which the suspects loaded the statue. Wichita Police Department/Facebook

More than 100 interviews have been conducted and police are collecting various doorbell footage.

“So for those who are involved in any way in this…it's only a matter of time and it would be in your best interest to simply turn yourself in and come forward and admit your role in this…but either way we will be arresting multiple people for… What they did to our community.”

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Surveillance footage showed at least two people dragging the statue and loading it into a silver pickup truck.

No arrests have been made so far, as police are collecting various doorbell footage to arrest the suspects. AP
Bob Lutz, executive director of the League 42 Youth Baseball League in Wichita, Kansas, walks past the charred remains of a dumpster where Wichita police found pieces of a stolen Jackie Robinson statue on Jan. 30, 2024. AP

Before Tuesday's disturbing discovery, officials offered the thieves a chance to return the statue “no questions asked.”

Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962 — the first black player to punch his ticket to Cooperstown. The speedster, who boasted a .313 MLB batting average, began his career with the Kansas City Monarchs as part of the Negro Leagues before signing with Brooklyn.

Each year, MLB honors the civil rights icon when each player wears Robinson's jersey number – 42.

Money is being raised by League 42, which bears Robinson's name, to replace the statue, said Bob Lutz, executive director of the nonprofit. So far, nearly $80,000 has been raised through the GoFundMe page.

After a week of grief, the community is “ready for some joy,” Lutz said.

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