The mystery of Milwaukie’s Big Boot Theft

Special Reports

10-foot Tony Lama boot stolen from Canby Asparagus Farm Casa de Tamales

MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — Where’s the boot?

It’s been more than a year since thieves stole a 10-foot tall, 600-pound fiberglass Tony Lama boot from its secured spot in front of Canby Asparagus Farm Casa de Tamales on Main Street in Milwaukie.

“I can’t imagine who took it,” said Charlie Maes, who bought the boot to put in front of his son’s restaurant. “It’s a hard one to hide.”

Casa de Tamales opened up about 15 years ago, he said, and as the name suggests they “specialize in tamales. Chicken and asparagus, pork and asparagus.”

He bought the boot a few years ago from Centerville Western Wear on McLoughlin Boulevard. For decades the giant Tony Lama boot was on the store sign and always reminded Charlie of the cowboy boots his grandparents got him as a kid.

Charlie Maes is the owner of a 10-foot, 600-pound fiberglass Tony Lama boot stolen from Canby Asaparagus Farm Casa de Tamales in Milwaukie. October 2019 (KOIN)

“I remember going to New Mexico to visit my grandparents,” the 72-year-old told KOIN 6 News. “I’d go back there for Christmas and my grandparents would always buy us kids a pair of cowboy boots and I thought it was just a neat piece to have.”

When Centerville Western Wear was closing in 2016, Charlie made the owner an offer to buy the boot.

“And he said, ‘I’ll take it!’ I laugh now because he said ‘I’ll take it’ on the first offer I gave him.”

But Charlie didn’t realize it was going to take a lift to get it down and move it. “I think the joke was on me when I thought I was getting it at a bargain because it cost me lots of money to have it taken down.”

The boot was an eye-catcher outside the restaurant. “It’s been a wonderful little conversation piece out in front of the store here, the restaurant. People would come by and take pictures,” he said.

And then it vanished.

Charlie was heading into the restaurant on August 31, 2018 when he noticed the boot was missing. “It was strapped down right out here in front of the windows where we set.”

Canby Asaparagus Farm Casa de Tamales in Milwaukie,, October 2019 (KOIN)

He said maybe he should have secured it a little better. “But I wasn’t thinking anyone was going to pick up a 600-pound boot and haul it off at night when the Milwaukie policemen were sleeping,” Charlie said, chuckling.

He filed a police report right away — Milwaukie PD case # 18-5966 — but there is no surveillance video.

The thieves’ motive “is a good question,” he said. “I’m surprised that somebody took it, number one. I never would have thought anybody would have taken it.”

Moving the boot to the restaurant required a lift and 4 people to move it. So the thieves, he said, “would have to have a pickup or a truck to haul it away, unless they carried it. But they’d need at least 4 people to carry it.”

charles maes tony lama boot milwaukie 08312018_1535754726975.jpg.jpg
This 10-foot, 600-pound fiberglass Tony Lama boot was stolen from outside Casa de Tamales in Milwaukie, August 31, 2018 (KOIN)

Charlie said he just wants the boot back, no questions asked. He offered a $500 reward when it was first stolen.

“I’d like to up the ante to $1000 so that I can get back that boot,” he said. “I would like to give the boot to the City of Milwaukie or the City of Oak Grove.”

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This 10-foot fiberglass Tony Lama boot sat atop Centerville Western Wear on McLoughlin Boulevard until Charlie Maes bought it in 2016 (KOIN, file)

It’s hard to say where the boot might be. But Charlie has some theories.

“Well, that boot can only be in a garage or a mancave or out of state or possibly in the Willamette River.”

He hopes whoever has the boot appreciates it “as much as I did for the short time I was owner of it here in Milwaukie. So, hopefully they’re getting the enjoyment that we got out of it at Casa de Tamales.”

But right now, the Big Boot Theft remains a mystery. Charlie Maes hopes the table is set to get it back.

“All you have to do is give me a call and tell me where the boot is,” he said, “and I will make sure you get your $1000 reward.” Anyone with information can call Canby Asparagus Farm Casa de Tamales at 503.654.4423.

Canby Asaparagus Farm Casa de Tamales in Milwaukie is offering a $1000 reward for this 10-foot fiberglass boot stolen from their restaurant, October 2019 (KOIN)

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