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‘I Was a Thief’: Jewel-Pilfering Woman Reflects on Life

Doris Payne exudes a clearly free elegance, her white hair orderly smoothed behind and bullion hoops swinging from her ears. She speaks quietly and deliberately, moving a kind of trust that would palliate any valuables store worker fervent to make a high-dollar sale.

And that’s accurately how authorities contend a 85-year-old has managed to travel off with pricey wealth in large thefts around a universe over 6 decades.

Asked about her exploits, she speaks in extended terms laced with insinuation, refusing to give specifics of how she selects a aim or what she says to them.

“I don’t foreordain what happens when we travel in a store. The people in assign foreordain what happens with me when we travel in a store,” Payne pronounced in a new speak with The Associated Press. “I don’t tell a chairman in a store we wish to see something that costs $10,000. They make those decisions formed on how we benefaction myself and how we look.”

Asked about valuables she’s pronounced to have stolen, Payne interrupts a question.

“I’ve never, ever walked out of a valuables store with a square of stolen sell in my purse, in my pocket,” she said. “Never. I’ve never, ever concealed. Never.”

Before she can answer a doubt about allegations that she infrequently walks out of a store with an costly sparkler on her finger or wrist, her counsel stops her, revelation her not to answer.

Police would brawl her explain that she’s never secluded any jewels. She was arrested in Oct and indicted of pocketing a $690 span of earrings from a Christian Dior boutique in a Saks Fifth Avenue dialect store during a mall in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

Because of a tentative charges, her lawyers won’t let her speak about that.

Court papers in Atlanta anxiety 6 before cases, mostly in southern California, dating to 1999.

Payne was lifted in West Virginia and altered with her family to Ohio when she was a teenager. After high school, she worked in a nursing home on and off for about 4 years. That’s a usually “real job” she ever had.

“I could have been some-more than what we was,” she said. “I’m wakeful of that.”

Asked to report what she’s been in her life, she’s discerning to answer: “I was a thief. You know that,” she pronounced with a chuckle.

Through a years, authorities have pronounced she has used during slightest 22 aliases. And yet she’s finished some jail time repeatedly, she substantially got divided with her crimes some-more mostly than she got caught, authorities have said. The Jewelers’ Security Alliance, an attention trade group, sent out bulletins as early as a 1970s warning about her.

The roots of her qualification run low into her early teenage years.

A accessible store owners let her try on a few watches when she was 13 after she told him her mom had betrothed her a watch if she got good grades. But when a white male came into a store, a owner’s appearance changed, as if he didn’t wish to be seen being good to a immature black girl, she said.

She got to a doorway of a store before she satisfied she still had a watch on and a store owners had forgotten. She returned a watch, though that planted a seed in her mind that a elementary daze could make it easy to trip out with a imagination stone in hand.

When she was in her 20s, she got a thought that she could support herself that approach and confessed her devise to her mother, who was frightened and told her it was stealing.

“I didn’t wish to hear that word, ‘steal,'” she said. “I kept saying, ‘No, it’s not stealing. I’m usually holding what a male wants me to have.'”

Despite her mother’s objections, Payne pronounced that’s how she upheld herself: “Every now and afterwards I’d go and get me a genuine excellent piece.”

Payne stayed tighten to her mother, who died in her arms some 20 years ago, she said.

As she tells it, Payne was a cunning child who always attempted to outthink a grown-ups. She was a youngest of 6 children and had a ploy for evading punishment: She always kept a small New Testament nearby, assured that would strengthen her from her mother’s switch.

“Sometimes, she’d make like she was going to strech for me and I’d scream, ‘I’ve got a Bible!'” Payne said.

She sneaked into “Gone With a Wind” when she was 7 or 8, and set about mimicking a approach singer Vivien Leigh spoke. She devoured conform magazines her mom bought and gay in perplexing on her boots and clothes. But she never favourite wearing bows in her hair or other ornaments, and even now occasionally wears jewelry.

For her speak with a AP, she wore a elementary black dress, a colorful headband draped around her shoulders and beige stockings with straight stripes of black dots. The bullion hoops were a usually valuables she wore.

The fable of Payne’s purported thefts have prolonged preoccupied a open and media, with large news stories and a documentary film detailing her feats. And while she pronounced she doesn’t have an ego and doesn’t review all that’s created about her, she wouldn’t mind saying a film finished about her life. Her collect to star: Kerry Washington from “Scandal.”

“If it should happen, we wish I’m around prolonged adequate to make certain it happens right,” she said. “I know what I’ve done. I’m not too ashamed of it.”

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