Elderly International Jewel Thief Arrested in Atlanta For Allegedly Stealing …

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

85-year-old jewel thief arrested at upscale mall in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — Ten years ago, when she was 75 years old, Doris Payne swore she was done with a lifetime of pilfering jewels across two continents. Security personnel at a Saks Fifth Avenue store spotted 85-year-old Doris Payne — who’s been stealing pricey jewels for over half a century — on video trying to swipe a $690 pair of earrings, Atlanta Police said.

ATLANTA An 85-year-old international jewelry thief was back behind bars on Tuesday, charged with stealing a pair of $690 earrings from an Atlanta store in the latest caper of her decades-long career as a jet-setting burglar with sparkling taste. Payne, who was successful stealing jewels for more than 50 years, now faces charges that she stole a ring from a Neiman Marcus store. (AP Photo/Jae C. The sticky-fingered 5-foot-1, 110-pound woman was found some time later at a shopping mall next door with the earrings in her pocket, authorities said. The subject of a 2013 documentary, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,” she was charged with shoplifting and remained in the Fulton County jail on Tuesday.

Surveillance cameras caught her trying to add to her long list of thefts at Phipps Plaza shopping center in the Buckhead neighborhood, according to arresting documents cited by the news station. Payne is said to have committed countless thefts over six decades in the U.S. and Europe and has discussed her exploits in media interviews over the years. Payne, 85, is currently in jail in Atlanta after officers allegedly caught her stealing the earrings on Friday from the Christian Dior store in Phipps Plaza, according to a police report obtained by PEOPLE. In addition to her most recent arrest in Atlanta, Payne is wanted in North Carolina, where she allegedly stole a $32,000 David Yurman engagement ring in July from a Charlotte-area mall, WSOC-TV reported.

Officers from the Atlanta Police Department booked her on Friday, and she’s charged with theft by shoplifting, according to Fulton County inmate records. A store security guard watching surveillance video saw Payne enter a Christian Dior boutique inside the department store and take the earrings from a standing shelf before quickly leaving, the police report says. She is also wanted on a warrant for a similar offense by the sheriff’s office in Mecklenberg County, North Carolina, and will face extradition, police said. “We would look forward to obtaining her release and having her medical needs addressed as soon as possible,” he wrote in an email Tuesday. “When that has occurred we can make a determination on how to proceed.” The daughter of an illiterate coal miner, Payne was born in Slab Fork, West Virginia. After her arrest, a judge initially refused to release her on bond, noting that Payne had previously listed her occupation on court records as “jewelry thief,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

She developed a winning strategy — dressing nicely, carrying a designer handbag and arming herself with a detailed story — that she used to charm jewelry store employees. Faced with a well-to-do woman with money to spend, store employees would relax their rules and bring out multiple high-value pieces at once, and Payne would quickly slip the expensive baubles on and off until the employee lost track and she could easily leave with one in hand. The Jewelers’ Security Alliance, an industry trade group, sent out bulletins as early as the 1970s warning about her. “It’s extraordinarily rare for a criminal to have that lengthy of a career,” he said. “Usually they either stop because they have enough money and they don’t want the risk anymore, or they’re dead.” “We’re all laughing, but it’s not funny,” he said. “She goes in and she takes product from people, and it causes a lot of grief for people.” In a 2005 jailhouse interview with The Associated Press in Las Vegas, Payne remembered her exploits with amusement, throwing back her head and laughing. Payne’s former lawyer, Gretchen Von Helms, tells PEOPLE that the 85-year-old was on a form of probation stemming from the California arrest at the time of the Atlanta theft.

She stole diamonds because they were easiest, she said, and she was in it for the game, not the money. “I’ve had regrets, and I’ve had a good time,” she told the AP.

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