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Jackie Robinson statue stolen from youth league field in Wichita, Kansas

<i>Travis Heying/TNS/Zuma Press</i><br/>Only the feet remain after a statue of legendary baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson was stolen from the League 42 field in Wichita
Travis Heying/TNS/Zuma Press
Only the feet remain after a statue of legendary baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson was stolen from the League 42 field in Wichita

By Rebekah Riess, Melissa Alonso and Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) — Police in Wichita, Kansas, are asking for help to locate a stolen statue of Jackie Robinson.

League 42, a nonprofit that provides low-cost baseball registration primarily for children ages 5-14, had raised $50,000 for the statue at its field, according to CNN affiliate KLBY. The league was named in honor of Jackie Robinson, whose jersey number was 42.

Before Robinson became the first Black player in Major League history, he was signed by the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues shortly after he was discharged by the military in 1944.

Pictures shared by the police department Thursday showed the life-sized statue was cut off at the ankles and hauled away. According to police, the theft occurred shortly after midnight local time on Thursday.

The statue of Robinson “was a symbol of hope” in the community, Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson told CNN on Sunday.

“It means a whole lot and it’s unfortunate that someone backed in there around midnight and took it,” Johnson said. The theft “breaks my heart for all of those kids and parents and coaches,” he added.

But the councilman said he was hopeful the statue would be found soon.

“Our police department has been working day and night to make sure we find out who did this,” he said.

There has been a good response from the public and local businesses who provided more camera footage, Johnson said.

On Monday, law enforcement announced they located a truck believed to be connected to the theft.

“Investigators from the WPD Property Crimes Bureau have been working all weekend following up on leads and information they have uncovered. With the assistance of our Field Community Response Teams, investigators were able to locate and recover the truck believed to be used in the theft of the statue,” the Wichita Police Department said on Facebook.

Police are following “promising leads” and are confident it will lead to an arrest, the post said.

At a Friday news conference, Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said he was “frustrated by the actions of those individuals who had the audacity to take the statue of Jackie Robinson from a park where kids and families and our community gathered to learn the history of Jackie Robinson, an American icon, and play the game of baseball. This should upset all of us.”

“What troubles me even more is that the theft occurred just before the beginning of February, which marks the start of Black History Month. Our city wants the statue returned,” Sullivan added.

The local Crimestoppers organization is offering up to $2,500 for a tip leading to an arrest and an additional $5,000 for the recovery of the statue, Steve Cohlmia, president of the Wichita Metro Crime Commission said Friday.

CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield and Kelly Murray contributed to this report.

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