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Monday, November 21, 2005

Doris Payne the 75-year-old Jewel Thief

Doris Payne: 75-year-old jewel thief Doris Payne: 75-year-old jewel thief
Doris Payne - Jewel thief charmed, then stole for more than 50 years

The Independent reported:

An immaculately dressed woman in her mid-seventies walked into the Neiman Marcus jewellery store in the Californian town of Palo Alto on 7 July.

As usual she tried on numerous rings and chatted to the sales person with an effortless warmth and ease. After deciding not to buy anything she appeared to leave empty handed. In fact, she walked out wearing a $31,500 ring.

It may well prove to have been the final act of one of America's most prolific jewel thieves. Knicknamed the "Grandmother Thief", Doris Marie Payne's traits were well known to the police who were amazed at how easily she could distract shop assistants and simply walk away with her loot.

75-year-old woman remembers jewel thief days [USA Today, Nov. 19, 2005]
Diamonds are a girl's best friend [cnn, Nov. 19, 2005]
Grandmother Thief's 50-year career of distraction comes to abrupt end [independent.co.uk]
via Prof. Hex

update: Elizabeth Easterly is writing a book about Doris Payne. Payne a coal miner's daughter became one of the world's most glamorous and elusive jewel thieves.
Now 75 years old, she is awaiting trial in Las Vegas for walking into Neiman Marcus, charming the clerk, and leaving with a $30,000 diamond ring on her hand. It’s something she’s done hundreds of times, at the world’s finest jewelry stores, over the past 50 years. She has hit Tiffany’s in New York, Bulgari in Rome, Her Royal Majesty’s jeweler, Garrard’s, in London. And she once walked out of Cartier in Monte Carlo with a 10.51 carat diamond ring on her finger. Held under house arrest for nine months, she managed to keep the diamond concealed by sewing it into her girdle.

Shine: The jewel thief next door. [integrationpoint.us]