Bob Lutz, the executive director of League 42, which takes its name for the number Robinson wore, said it was a challenge to get the statue erected because the group had to raise money and needed approvals to use his name and likeness.
The statue, which has an estimated value of $75,000, was installed in April 2021, he said.
Mr. Lutz said he believed that the theft was an isolated incident and that he had no idea what could have been a motive for the theft.
“I’m hopeful that this was a purely ignorant decision made by ignorant people,” he said. “That they didn’t know any better.”
The Wichita police chief, Joe Sullivan, said during a news conference on Friday that he was “frustrated by the actions of those individuals who had the audacity to take the statue,” noting that the theft occurred just before February, which is Black History Month.
“Our city wants the statue returned,” the chief said. “We also want the individuals who robbed our community of a treasure to be held accountable for their actions, and I assure you they will.”