86-year-old US jewel thief arrested again

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Washington, July 19 (IANS) An 86-year-old serial jewel thief in the US, whose crimes date back to the 1950s, has again been charged with theft.

Doris Payne was arrested on Monday at a Walmart store in Chamblee, Georgia, with items worth $86.22, police said. Although she was quickly released on bond, Payne was re-arrested on Tuesday and jailed on a probation violation stemming from an earlier theft conviction, NBC News reported.

Payne, who was found wearing an ankle monitor from a previous arrest for shoplifting, said she forgot to pay for the items when she stopped by Walmart to pick up some medicine. “Thieving was the farthest thing from my mind,” she said in a phone interview to NBC News.

The octogenarian said she had taken some medicine that muddled her mind before she went shopping. “It causes me to forget,” she said.

Payne claimed that since she didn’t have a basket, she dropped the items in a shopping bag and thought she told the cashier about them.

However, the police said a security officer at Walmart watched Payne pile items from the pharmacy department in her purse and then transfer other items from her shopping cart to her purse and a shopping bag. The guard caught her as she left the store and the items were returned to the store.

Payne served multiple jail terms for her crimes. She is thought to have stolen $2 million in jewellery and was profiled in a 2013 documentary, reports said.

Her lawyer, Drew Findling, said: “This is a sharp contrast to all the cases in the past. We’re not talking about high-end jewellery. We’re talking about what an 86-year-old woman needs to survive on a day-to-day basis, food supplies and medical supplies.”

“This doesn’t fit into anything she has done before and we are going to look at the video and see what’s going on, see if this is maybe forgetfulness,” he said.

Payne had recently pleaded guilty of stealing a $2,000 diamond necklace from a department store in a suburb of Atlanta. She was then sentenced to house arrest and banned from shopping centres in the city’s area.



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