Doris Payne has been about that jewel heist life since 1952, when she was in her twenties. Her storied career as a jewel thief was so exceptional, that it has been featured in a 2013 documentary, The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne (also available on Netflix). However, at the age of 85, maybe Payne has lost some of the fluency in her swipe. She is now in custody in Fulton County Jail in Atlanta after her most recent mission.
According to WSBTV, Payne was busted after sliding a $690 pair of Christian Dior earrings into her purse at the Saks Fifth Avenue in Philips Plaza. She was caught by the store’s loss prevention specialist after being viewed on surveillance video. Authorities believed they nabbed a run-of-the-mill shoplifter until they did a little research and found that she is, indeed, an international jewel thief. They also found that authorities in Mecklenburg County, N.C., have been looking for Payne since July, for the theft of a David Yurman engagement ring from South Park Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. The iced out, diamond-studded ring is valued at $33,000.
Payne’s career as a jewel thief dates back to 1952, when she was in her 20’s. During the span of decades, she has used at
least 20 aliases, ten social security numbers and nine birth dates. Her go-to maneuver in the “sleight-of-hand” technique. Wikipedia describes:
Her modus operandi is to enter jewelry stores posing as a well-to-do woman, typically looking for a diamond ring. Using her charm, she would engage the clerk, asking to see an assortment of items. Eventually, she would “cause the clerk to forget” just how many items were outside the case; and, at some point, she would leave with one or two pieces.
Payne has also been arrested numerous times for her crimes. She’s so ill with hers that in 1980, after an arrest in Ohio, she escaped federal prison after a hospital visit.
Some of her more recent notable thefts and arrests include:
- In January 2010, she was arrested in Costa Mesa, CA after walking out of Saks Fifth Avenue with a $1,300 Burberry tench coat that she removed the tags from.
- In January 2011, at the age of 80, she was sentenced to 18 months in San Diego for swiping a 1 carat diamond ring.
- In October 2013, at the age of 83, Payne caught felony charges for stealing a $22,500 diamond ring in Palm Desert California. She pleaded guilty the following year and was sentenced to two years in prison and two years on parole. She was also ordered to stay away from jewelry stores. She was released after three months due to overcrowding.
In the documentary, it says that Payne has stolen around $2 million in jewelry during her run. She says she “spent every penny.”
According to Payne’s lawyer, she is in good spirits after her latest arrest, but struggling with her health.
Check out the trailer for The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne below: