Senior Citizen Steals Hearts, Gems

Meet Doris Payne. She is 77 years old, and for the last fifty years, she has been a jewel thief. She stole her first diamond at age 27, and she never used a gun. Instead, charm and wardrobe were her weapons. "I knew how to dress," says Ms. Payne. "I never did like ruffles and frills. I just like a simple-cut fine material that moves when I move." She would try on lots and lots of jewelry, then manage to pocket one piece. The items she stole? "They were not that great in number," she says. "They were great in value." Ms. Payne lifted a five-carat diamond ring from a Neiman Marcus in Denver and a $31,500 three-stone diamond ring with a platinum band from a Neiman Marcus in Palo Alto. When she was busted, on her booking sheet, she gave her occupation as "jewel thief."

Her son, now 61, was raised mostly by his grandparents. He says he understands his mother, though: "I realized she was very good at what she does and had fun doing it." Ms. Payne, who is currently serving time in Colorado, will be 81 by the time she gets out. She doesn't like jail ("I could kill myself in here," she says) but she doesn't seem to have regrets, either. "I had lots of fun," Ms. Payne says. "I did."

Too Elegant To Be A Jewelry Thief [LA Times]