Doris Payne — demure, elegant and 83 — is a thief, as prolific and subtly conniving as they come. She doesn’t use muscle and she doesn’t rely on guns.

Instead, between numerous stints behind bars, for 50 years she has leaned on charming misdirection to steal pricey jewelry from unsuspecting merchants all over the globe.

via Notorious jewel thief Doris Payne, 83, makes news in Palm Desert -

Photo: Courtesy of the documentary “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne”


Read a little more about her in this 2005 profile piece. – Tanya B.

The FBI file for Doris Payne is said to be six feet long: The criminal history for the international jewel thief dates back to the 1950s. Payne is infamous for using her charm and a specialized slight of hand to put clerks at ease and walk out with precious jewels. Over her 60-year career, she is thought to have stolen $2 million in jewelry. Now 84, she’s been in and out of jail dozens of times.

The documentary The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne traces Payne’s journey from an impoverished childhood in West Virginia to a lavish life on the run around the world.

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Infamous jewel thief arrested again, at 83

SAN DIEGO (KABC) – The infamous elderly jewel thief Doris Payne was arrested again. In and out of prison for years, she is now accused of stealing a $40,000 ring in Palm Desert. She’s made a career out of stealing valuable jewelry, and her criminal past has made her a celebrity.

Doris Payne is a self-proclaimed international jewelry thief with a love for diamond rings. She faces another felony charge after allegedly stealing another fancy ring. She is also the subject of a new documentary.

Police say the 83-year-old Payne stole a $40,000 ring from a Palm Desert jewelry store.

Dressed in a jail uniform Payne looks nothing like the elegant woman who dressed to the nines, waltzed into jewelry stores intent on committing her crime.

As she once explained in a jailhouse interview: “There’s only one thing that makes it work. I knew how to dress. I knew how to behave.”

Payne’s prolific career of crime has taken her around the world. She reportedly stole her first diamond in her late 20s.

In the documentary film “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,” she says she once stole a 10.5-carat diamond ring in Monte Carlo.

“There’s never been a day that I went to steal that I did not get what I went to do,” Payne said.

Payne also reportedly stole jewelry in Greece, England and Switzerland.

In the U.S. she’s been in and out prison.

In 1999 she was convicted and sentenced to 12 years after stealing a 5-carat diamond ring in Denver. In 2005, while on parole, she stole a ring worth more than $30,000 in Palo Alto.

She was back before a judge in 2011 in San Diego, where she was sentenced to the five-year maximum for swiping an $8,800 diamond ring. That day in court, she claimed that she regrets her actions: “To say I have no remorse, that’s people who don’t know me.”

In the newly released documentary, she tells a different story: “I don’t have any regrets about stealing jewelry. I regret getting caught.”

Payne is being held on $45,000 bail. She faces one count of felony grand theft and is expected to be arraigned Thursday.


“It’s not up to me to dictate how the officer comes at me. All I can do is give him a little bit more respect than he’s due.” (Doris Payne re police officers nagging her about her probation conditions as a convicted jewel thief in the documentary “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne”)
I love her. Notice– *more* respect than he’s due. She’s such a subtle smartass.

Notorious jewelry thief ‘Diamond’ Doris Payne caught at Saks in Atlanta, stealing again. Professional, international jewelry thief Doris Payne was on the run and now she’s been caught. The gangster grandmama reportedly stole a $690 Christian Dior ring from Saks Fifth Avenue at Atlanta’s tony Phipps Plaza mall on Friday, October 23, 2015.

“I think these officers just thought it was a run of the mill shoplifting. They took the woman into custody and short time there after they get notice that another jurisdiction had a warrant for her and she was an international thief,” Sgt. Warren Pickard with the Atlanta Police Department wrote in a report.

“She put them in her pocket and politely walked out of the store.”

Payne was wanted in North Caroline for lifting a $33,000 diamond-studded ring from a Charlotte mall. She is currently in police custody at an Atlanta detention center.

The octogenarian has been at this since her 20s and is the star of the documentary “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,” where she gain notoriety for stealing at various locales around the country including Greece, Britain, Switzerland and Monte Carlo where she stole a 10 ½-carat diamond.


Hot Docs Trailers 2013: THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE (by HotDocsFest)

Just finished watching the Docu/film about Doris Payne and fell in love with her. They really need to make a proper movie about her. It’ll be in the vein of a classic caper movie I guess

I have always been a sucker for heist movies. I don’t know why, but there is just something about cleverly orchestrated schemes to stick it to the “man” (whomever that might be) that fully capture my attention. I’m not condoning theft of any kind, but when I heard about the 80-something international jewel thief who also happens to be an African American woman…I had to know more. With enough digging I was able to find the documentary The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne

Her recounts of schemes and escapes from authorities seemed to be pulled out of your favorite thriller; however they have all been confirmed by the FBI. She tells stories of how racial discrimination prompted her to steal her first piece of jewelry and helping her mother flee from an abusive husband led her to continue. 

The filmmakers do an excellent job painting all sides of Doris…which causes you to empathize with her as she sits on trial for her latest heist, but time to time you also have to wonder if you’re being conned by this sweet little old lady.

ceiphiedknight  asked:

Hi! I'm sure you're sick of suggestions and questions like this, but have you ever considered Doris Payne? She's a career criminal, a jewelry thief, but she might break your rules because she's still alive today at the age of 85. I find her super fascinating, because she went international with her thieving at a time when it was harder to travel, and she's led such an interesting life!

Posted about her on the website two years ago. :D