Doris Payne

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Doris Payne
Born Doris Marie Payne
(1930-10-10) October 10, 1930 (age 87)
Slab Fork, West Virginia, U.S.
Criminal charge Theft
Criminal penalty 5 years imprisonment
Conviction(s) Theft (January 2011)

Doris Marie Payne (born October 10, 1930 in Slab Fork, West Virginia) is an American convicted jewel thief.[1]

Early life[edit]

Payne was born in Slab Fork, West Virginia to a coal miner.[2]


Payne's career as an international jewel thief spans six decades, with a criminal record dating back to 1952. Her modus operandi is to enter jewelry stores posing as a well-to-do woman, typically looking for a diamond ring. Using her charm, she would engage the clerk, asking to see an assortment of items. Eventually, she would "cause the clerk to forget" just how many items were outside the case; and, at some point, she would leave with one or two pieces.

Her crimes have spanned six decades. She has been arrested many times; she is a career criminal.[3][4]

Payne is most noted for stealing a 10-carat diamond ring, valued at $500,000 (US), from Monte Carlo in the 1970s. She fled to France, but was detained in Nice and later extradited back to Monte Carlo, where she was held for nine months before being released, as the Monégasque authorities were unable to locate the stolen gem.[5]

Payne was arrested in Ohio in the 1980s after she escaped from federal custody during a hospital visit.[6]

On Friday, January 22, 2010, Payne was arrested in Costa Mesa, California for removing the tags from a $1,300 Burberry trench coat from a Saks Fifth Avenue store and subsequently leaving the store with the coat.[7] In January 2011, at the age of 80, Doris was sentenced in a San Diego court to 16 months in prison for stealing a 1 carat diamond ring.

On October 29, 2013, Payne, age 83, was arrested on felony larceny charges for stealing a $22,500 diamond-encrusted ring in Palm Desert, California.[8][3][9] Payne pled guilty. On April 30, 2014, she was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by two years on parole, and was ordered to stay away from jewelry stores.[10] However, she was released three months later due to prison overcrowding. In July 2015 she was reportedly stealing again and was believed to have stolen a $33,000 (US) ring, although this has not been proven yet.[11] On October 23, 2015 she was caught on security cameras putting Christian Dior earrings valued at $690.00 in her pocket at an Atlanta, Georgia Saks Fifth Avenue store. She was arrested and charged with shoplifting by Officers from the Atlanta Police Department.[12]

Payne has openly spoken about her crimes and has used at least 20 aliases, at least ten social security numbers and at least nine dates of birth.[13]

It is alleged in Charlotte, North Carolina, that on July 11, 2015, Payne visited a jewelry store at SouthPark Mall. After she left, store employees realized a diamond ring valued at $33,000 was missing from a showcase. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department did not issue an official statement or APB, but local ABC affiliate WSOC-TV obtained a copy of an email sent to all area jewelers regarding the alleged crime and alerting them to be on the lookout. An arrest warrant was issued for Payne in August 2015, by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg sheriff's department.[14]

In Atlanta, Georgia, on December 13, 2016 she was again arrested on larceny charges.[15]

On July 17, 2017 she was arrested for stealing $86.22 worth of merchandise from an Atlanta area Wal-Mart, while wearing the ankle bracelet from her previous arrest.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

There is a documentary film about her life, entitled The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, in which Payne describes in detail many of her crimes, from the earliest thefts in her youth, up to her arrest in 2011, at age 80, for stealing a diamond ring from a Macy's department store. The trial for this crime is chronicled in the documentary, and her last interview in the film takes place in prison, as she was convicted of the crime. However, updates during the credits inform the audience that she had since been released, only to commit, and be convicted of, another jewelry theft soon after at age 83.[6][17][18]

A hidden-camera scenario on the show What Would You Do? had a character based on Doris Payne.[19]

A film of Payne's life is being developed by Codeblack Films. Actress Tessa Thompson is set to portray Payne in the film.[20]


  1. ^ "Inmate Information System". Retrieved May 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ "The 85-year old daughter of an illiterate coal miner has been an international jewel thief for more than 6 decades". Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Doris Marie Payne, 83-year-old jewel thief arrested in CA". United Press International. October 31, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ Wagner, Angie "75-year-old jewel thief looks back" November 20, 2005. MSNBC. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  5. ^ Taylor, Goldie America’s Best Jewel Thief Is An 85-Year-Old Woman Daily Beast. January 24, 2016
  6. ^ a b Gerber, Marisa (October 31, 2013). "'Notorious' career jewel thief Doris Payne, 83, arrested again". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ Blankstein, Andrew. "International thief is arrested at South Coast Plaza", Los Angeles Times. January 27, 2010.
  8. ^ "Notorious jewel thief Doris Payne, 83, makes news in Palm Desert". Los Angeles Times. October 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ Jae, Kyler (November 1, 2013). "Jewel Shop Worker: 83-Year-Old Alleged Thief 'Was Excellent at What She Did'". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Woman, 83, has ‘rap sheet’ dating back to 1952". AM 1540 WBCO.
  11. ^ Lodi, Marie (July 19, 2015). "Notorious 84-Year-Old Jewel Thief Is At It Again". Jezebel. 
  12. ^ "Famous jewel thief Doris Payne arrested". 
  13. ^ Carey, Amanda (February 10, 2012). "Elderly International Jewel Thief, Doris Payne, Wants to Stay in Jail". ABC News. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Doris Payne arrest warrant issued in Charlotte". Desert Sun. August 3, 2015. 
  15. ^ Branson-Potts, Hailey. "Octogenarian jewelry thief Doris Payne arrested again in Atlanta". Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  16. ^ "Jewel Thief Doris Payne Charged With Walmart Theft". 
  17. ^ Rapold, Nicolas (May 27, 2014). "'The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne', About a Real Jewel Thief". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne". 
  19. ^ "What Would You Do: Grandma Shoplifts From Jewelry Store Video - ABC News". Retrieved 2017-08-22. 
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (February 13, 2018). "Tessa Thompson to Star as Doris Payne in Jewelry Heist Movie". Variety. 

Other sources[edit]