80 years Old Jewelry Thief Admits Stealing $16,000 Ring

An 80 years old woman-who once listed her profession as "jewel thief" on an arrest report pleaded no contest Friday to stealing a $16,000 ring from a Santa Monica jewelry-store.

Doris Payne, whose has been convicted of swiping-jewelry around the globe, was convicted of grand theft and sentenced by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark E. Windham to 16 months in prison. Payne’s sentence, however, will run concurrently with her five-year sentence for slipping-out of a San Diego-area Macy's department store with another diamond ring, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Heather Steggell.

Born in 1930 in the small coal mining town of Slab Fork, W.Va., Payne stole her first diamond in her late 20s, hoping to raise money to help her-mother leave an abusive husband, she told The Times.
She said she had no idea how many jewels she had stolen but that her career as a thief had-spanned five decades. She said she honed her craft from New York and Las Vegas to London, Paris, Monte Carlo and Tokyo.

The targets-were always the finest stores, she said, where she would blend in, tell a great-story and take advantage of deep pockets in the clothing she wore. She would distract the sales staff as she tried on various rings and then when they were not looking slip the ring off her finger. She would insure the salesperson then saw her naked-finger.

In time, improvements in security technology caught up with Payne. But even then it would sometimes take stores days to work out who stole the items. Still, her life story has even attracted a potential Hollywood-movie.

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