One of the most renowned boot makers in Texas said "a varmint," a "low-life scum" or "a filthy thief" is responsible for swiping a pair of award-winning cowboy boots worth $10,000.

Featuring scenes of busting broncos and a cattle drive, with green full-quill ostrich bottoms, the hand-tooled leather boots were most valuable pair in the store until someone walked away with them.

A man in his 20s came into Trail Town Custom Leather last week wearing a pair of tennis shoes but left in the valuable boots, said John Glaze, an apprentice to craftsman Carl Chappell, who made the boots.

Glaze said he answered some of the man's questions about having his boots repaired, but got distracted by a phone call. Then he noticed the man exiting the store, tennis shoes in hand and the custom-made boots on his feet.

"By the time I made it to the door, he was already going around the corner," Glaze said. "And by the time I got to the corner, he was in his white pickup driving away."

As boots go, the missing pair is well known. They won an award at the 2003 Boot and Saddle Makers Trade Show Roundup, appeared in boot books, magazines and on the cover of the specialty publication Shop Talk.

Chappell and Glaze have pinned up reward posters along U.S. Highway 82 and posted notices on custom cowboy boot Web sites. They reckon a $1,000 reward might be enough to entice a posse to go after the thief.

The poster says, "Anyone wanting to turn this piece of trash in should contact the Saint Jo PD."