Octogenarian Jewel Thief Just Can’t Stop
What do you think about when you hear the word jewel thief? Do you imagine a svelte criminal in fantastic shape slinking her way through a museum while deftly avoiding lasers that would set off the alarms? If you do, then you might not immediately picture Doris Payne, a woman who has been an international jewel thief for more than six decades. Of course, her career as a jewel thief might not be quite as glamorous as what you see on television or when reading books. It is a lot less Catwoman and a lot more cat lady. Still, Payne has had a career to rival most other jewel thieves.
Doris Payne was born in1930 in a small town in West Virginia. She had a rough childhood, and she started stealing jewels in 1952, when she was just 22 years old. Doris had a very simple MO. She would go into a jewelry store and would pretend that she was a wealthy woman looking to buy jewelry. Because she was a very charming woman, it was possible for her to speak easily with the clerks and to be allowed to try on many different items.
She would end up having so many different items that she was curious about and wanted to try on that she would sometimes be able to confuse the clerks. They would not know just how many items they had taken out, and Doris would end up leaving with a couple in her pocket.
While most of her scores were relatively small, she did have some rather impressive hauls as well. The most impressive, and the one for which she is most well-known, is the theft of a 10-carat diamond ring. This ring, stolen from Monte Carlo in the 1970s, was valued at half a million dollars. She fled to France but was brought back to Monte Carlo and was held for nine months. Since the authorities were unable to locate the diamond, she was eventually released.
You may think that getting older would slow Doris down a bit, but you’d be wrong. And if you are a jeweler, you would be out some of your best jewelry if you believed that. Between 2010 and now she has been arrested seven times for theft. All but one of those times, it involved jewelry.
Most recently, in December 2016, she was arrested in a department store in Atlanta, Georgia. She was trying to steal a $2000 bracelet. She was 86 years old at the time of this crime and she does not show any signs of slowing down. It seems as though the only times that she is not stealing something is when she is in jail. There was even a documentary made about her in 2013. It is called The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.
While there is certainly something interesting about Doris Payne, it’s important to remember that a life of crime doesn’t pay. Unless, of course, you can steal a diamond ring from Monte Carlo worth half a million and essentially get away with it.