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Entries in Gretchen von Helms (1)

Thursday
Feb102011

International Jewel Thief, 80, Sentenced to Five Years

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SAN DIEGO) -- International jewel thief Doris Payne, 80, was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for her latest caper in a criminal career that stretches back more than half a century.

In court, Payne told the judge she didn't think he should "be harsh with [her]" after she was convicted of swiping a nearly $9,000 diamond ring from Macy's in San Diego on Jan. 1, 2010.

"I am truly sorry that this went on as long as it did," she said according to a report by ABC News' San Diego affiliate KGTV.

But Judge Frank Brown gave her five years, the upper end of the possible sentence.

"You won't stop," Judge Frank Brown said. "That's the problem here...She's a thief. She's charming. Santa Claus' wife, that's who she is."

Payne has been, by her own admission, a career thief and traveled the world plying her craft. She has never used a gun or lifted a finger in violence, but still slips out of jewelry stores with her loot, according to her lawyer Gretchen von Helms, who described her modus operandi to ABC News.

Dressed to the nines, she waltzes into a high-end jewelry store in Monte Carlo -- or Paris or Las Vegas -- and smiles at the clerk. She asks to try on a ring or a watch -- wait, no not that one, the other one. How about this one?

After trying on and admiring several pieces, all the while bantering with the sales clerk, she decides that, no, she won't be buying anything today. She glides out as gracefully as she came in and the clerk goes back to work.

It will be hours before the clerk realizes one of the more expensive pieces – a ring that nice old lady had tried on -- is missing.

"They're not robberies," von Helms said in January. "What she does is theft by beguilement. She goes in, she's charming, she talks to folks and leaves. She just happens to have a diamond with her." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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