by Renata Johnson
Doris Payne has a career like no other African-American woman. At the age of 84, she is still a notorious international jewel thief. Her criminal record dates back as far as 1952. Payne would enter a jewelry store posing as a wealthy woman. Her tactic is to ask about diamond rings, and then distract the sales clerk talking about other merchandise of interest. The clerk soon forgets how many items are out of the case, and that is all it would take for Payne to make away with pieces of jewelry worth thousands in her pocket.
Payne went on to do this for over 5 decades, and has a long list of arrests. She definitely has made a career about of being a professional thief. After escaping from federal custody during a hospital visit, she was arrested in 1980 in Ohio. On Friday, January 22, 2010, Payne was arrested in Costa Mesa, California for taking the tags from a $1,300 Burberry trench coat in a Saks Fifth Avenue, and later leaving the store with the coat.
She was sentenced in January 2011, at the age of 80 in a San Diego court to 16 months in prison for stealing a 1 carat diamond. However, that didn’t stop her from stealing again in October, 2013. She stole a $22, 500 diamond-encrusted ring in Palm Desert, California. Then, at the age of 83, she pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to two years in prison, and two years on parole. She was also ordered not to go near another jewelry store. However, Payne’s stay was short-lived because of overcrowding, she was set free in 3 months.
Here it is July 2015, and Doris Payne is still growing strong in her profession. She was just recently caught stealing in Charlotte, NC at South Park Mall. After Payne left the store an employee noticed a ring valued at $33,000 was missing from the showcase. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police has not issued an official statement on the theft. However, all jewelry stores are on high alert. Jewelers should know that although Payne’s is 84-years old, she is still really good with the slight of hand trick.
Payne does not try to hide her life as a jewel thief. She openly speaks out about it, she has used several aliases and at least ten social security numbers. She is quite unapologetically about who she was and who she is today. She is still a woman on a mission of crime, even at the age of 84.