Home | Breaking News | Notorious US jewel thief arrested for shoplifting
Doris Payne in Atlanta on January 11, 2016 . Police said Payne’s illicit career spanned six decades.(AP)
Doris Payne in Atlanta on January 11, 2016 . Police said Payne’s illicit career spanned six decades.(AP)

Notorious US jewel thief arrested for shoplifting

The subject of a 2013 documentary film, the 86-year-old is well-known in fine-jewellery circles, and authorities say she has pocketed expensive jewels from around the world.

WT24 Desk

A notorious jewel thief with an illicit career spanning six decades has been caught stealing again, but she wasn’t after sparkly gems this time, police near Atlanta say, according to report.

Doris Payne, 86, was arrested at a Walmart store on Monday and charged with shoplifting merchandise worth $86.22, according to a report from Chamblee police. The charge is a misdemeanour.

Payne was the subject of a 2013 documentary film The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne that detailed her feats. In an interview with The Associated Press last year, she casually acknowledged, “I was a thief.”

She’s well-known in fine-jewellery circles, and authorities say she has pocketed expensive jewels from stores around the world.

Her attorney, Drew Findling, noted that this case is different.

“This is a sharp contrast to all the cases in the past. We’re not talking about high-end jewellery,” he said. “We’re talking about what an 86-year-old woman needs to survive on a day-to-day basis, food supplies and medical supplies.”

Payne’s latest arrest came after a Walmart employee notified an off-duty police officer working security at the store that Payne visited the pharmacy, electronics and grocery departments. She put some items in her shopping cart but hid others in her purse and a shopping bag, the employee said.

Payne then went to a register and paid for the items in her shopping cart but not the items in her shopping bag and purse, the employee said. When she tried to exit the store the employee and the off-duty officer stopped her.

When Payne was booked into the Chamblee jail, police discovered she was wearing an electronic ankle monitor because she was on probation from a prior arrest in DeKalb County. She pleaded guilty in March to a felony shoplifting charge after authorities said she tried to steal a $2,000 necklace from a Von Maur department store in December.

Authorities have said she has used at least 22 aliases over the years and probably got away more often than she was caught, though she has done several stints in prison. The Jewelers’ Security Alliance, an industry trade group, sent out bulletins as early as the 1970s warning about her.

Payne told the AP she was a child when a friendly store owner let her try on watches and then forgot she had the jewellery on. She said she realized then that a simple distraction could make it easy to slip out with a fancy trinket in hand. Her career began in her 20s when she got the idea that she could support herself by lifting jewellery.

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