A US man in his 70s has been accused of stealing a pair of red shoes that Judy Garland wore in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz.

The shoes — which became famous for the scene where Dorothy taps them together and says over and over, “there’s no place like home” — were taken in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in the actress’s birthplace of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

The FBI recovered the shoes in a sting operation in 2018 but no one was charged then. A reward of a million dollars for information leading to an arrest was offered, but nothing came of it.

But on Wednesday, Terry Martin was indicted by a grand jury and charged with one count of theft of major artwork, the US Justice Department office in North Dakota said.

The announcement did not give any details of Martin, nor did it say what led police to him as a suspect in the shoe theft, in which a glass case containing the shoes was broken in the middle of the night.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper said Martin is 76 and lives 12 miles from the Garland museum.

When contacted by the paper, Martin was quoted as saying, “Gotta go on trial. I don’t want to talk to you.”.

The shoes are among four pairs that Garland wore during the production of the popular 1939 film.

They are, the Justice Department said, “widely viewed as among the most recognisable memorabilia in American film history”.

It said that at the time of the theft the shoes were insured for US$1 million but their current value is around US$3.5 million.

When the shoes were recovered in 2018, they were authenticated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, which has another of the four authentic pairs.

After the theft, police in Grand Rapids received many tips, chief Scott Johnson said in 2018.

One claimed the shoes Dorothy wore on the yellow brick road were nailed to a wall in a roadside diner. Another insisted they were thrown in an iron-ore pit.

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