NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 6, 2013

Jewel thief, 83, pleads not guilty in latest case

LOS ANGELES — Doris Payne, the 83-year-old woman with a decades-long history of jewel thievery, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges stemming from her latest case.

Payne, whose capers stretched across the globe and inspired a documentary, pleaded not guilty to one count each of second-degree burglary and grand theft, Riverside County, Calif., district attorney’s spokesman John Hall said. A settlement conference was scheduled for Nov. 20 in Indio, he added.

Payne was arrested last week after she allegedly stole a $22,500 diamond-encrusted ring from a jewelry store on El Paseo, Palm Desert’s luxurious row of shops. Jeweler Raju Mehta told the Los Angeles Times he thought the well-dressed, articulate women fit right in with his customers when she walked in the store on Oct. 21.

She tried on necklaces and a ring, Mehta said, saying she had lost her jewelry and had a $42,000 insurance check to spend. When she left the store, workers discovered the ring was missing.

“She knows what she’s doing,” Mehta said. “I’ve been doing retail for a very long time and it’s never happened that someone stole right in front of me.”

Police say that Mehta was the latest in a long line of unsuspecting victims duped by Payne, who once described her profession in a court document as “jewel thief.” Her arrest record spans the United States, and authorities said she’s also stolen expensive diamonds in Paris; Milan, Italy; London; and Tokyo.

A byproduct of her unwavering devotion to thievery is a notoriety that now borders on fame. She has long been known to law enforcement, has been featured on TV, in newspapers and had her story told in a documentary. There has been talk of Halle Berry starring in a movie about her life.

Her most recent conviction came in 2011 for stealing a ring in San Diego and another in Santa Monica, Calif. She was released from prison this summer.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Raw: Obama Tours Gyeongbok Palace Swimmer Michael Phelps Back in Competition Raw: Obama Lays Korean War Memorial Wreath Obama Leads Naturalization Ceremony in Seoul Calif. School Bus Crash Hurts Driver, 11 Kids Country Club for Exotic Cars Little Science Behind 'Pollen Vortex' Prediction US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents
Special Features