87-Year-Old Jewel Thief Dodges Jail in Shoplifting Case

She was arrested at a mall outside Atlanta after trying to steal a $2,000 necklace

A notorious jewel thief recently arrested at a Georgia Walmart store got no jail time during her latest court appearance.

Doris Payne, at 87, has stolen about $2 million in jewels over the last six decades. She was arrested July 17 for a misdemeanor shoplifting charge after a Walmart employee said she tried to leave the suburban Atlanta store with items she hadn't paid for.

Payne had been on probation after pleading guilty in March to a felony shoplifting charge for trying to steal a $2,000 necklace from a department store in December. She was jailed for violating that probation.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Payne appeared Monday before Chamblee Municipal court Judge Angela Duncan, who told her, "Don't come back."

"I won't," said Payne, who pleaded guilty in a deal that gave her credit for 58 days served from July through September.

Over the years, Payne has dressed in fine clothes with deep pockets, charmed sales workers at high-end department stores, distracted them and slipped out with expensive jewelry, the newspaper has previously reported. She was the subject of a 2013 documentary, "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne."

"There's never been a day that I went to steal that I did not get what I went to do," she said in the film.

Payne was raised in West Virginia and moved with her family to Ohio when she was a teenager.

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, who is black, told The Associated Press in an earlier interview that she was a child when a store owner let her try on watches and then forgot she had the jewelry on when he turned to wait on a white customer who had come in. She said she returned the watch but the episode made her realize 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 jewelry.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us