Atlanta’s oldest career criminal, 86-year-old alleged jewelry thief, strikes again

DUNWOODY, Georgia — Atlanta’s oldest ‘career criminal’ refuses to retire.

Doris Payne’s mugshots span more than six decades of her life, and now, at 86 years old, she is allegedly still at it.

The latest accusation against the international jewel thief comes from the Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody. Dunwoody police charged her with taking a Lagos at Von Maur diamond necklace worth nearly $2,000 on Tuesday, December 13th.

Unashamed of her exploits, WGCL caught up with Payne when she was arrested for doing the same thing in 2015. She said she’s the type of thief who has principles.

“Ask any officer. Have I ever been arrested and lied?” Payne said.

Atlanta police call Payne a career criminal whose modus operandi was to trick unsuspecting clerks in jewelry stores into showing her various diamond rings and, in the process, confuse them to the point that they forgot how many items they’d taken out to show.

Payne would then take an item.

But according to the police report, this time, employees noticed right away they were short two diamond necklaces and stopped Payne as she was leaving the store.

Payne’s been arrested for similar thefts across the country, and around the world, but she rarely spends long periods of time in jail because of her health.

Her story has caught the attention of documentary filmmakers. In an interview for a special called “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne” she bragged about her skills as a jewel thief.

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

Payne’s first arrest was in 1952 and her largest known alleged theft occurred back in the 1970s, when she was caught stealing a diamond ring from Monte Carlo, France worth $500,000.