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Celebrity Jewel Thief Ordered to Stand Trial for Alleged El Paseo Heist

Booking photo of Doris Marie Payne, 83, released Oct. 30, 2013.
Booking photo of Doris Marie Payne, 83, released Oct. 30, 2013.
An 83-year-old ex-con whose career as a jewel thief is the subject of a documentary film, was ordered Wednesday to stand trial for allegedly stealing a $22,500 diamond ring from a Palm Desert store.

Doris Marie Payne, who allegedly swiped the 3.5-carat ring on Oct. 21 from El Paseo Jewelers, was ordered Dec. 11 to proceed to trial on one felony count each of grand theft and burglary following a morning-long preliminary hearing at Indio's Larson Justice Center.

If convicted as charged, Payne faces up to six years in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Richard A. Erwood denied Payne's request for supervised release and kept her bail at $65,000. She is being held at Smith Correctional in Banning.

Payne was released from prison three months ago and was on probation for felony theft in a Los Angeles case when the crime in Palm Desert occurred.

She reportedly had been living at a Riverside motel.

In "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne," which premiered in April at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, Payne says her "methodology of stealing jewelry took me all over the world . . .  New York, Milan, Paris, Rome, London."

In a declaration in support of an arrest warrant, Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Adan Yamaguchi wrote that Payne would "typically charm the sales associate and ask to see multiple items at once, causing the sales associate to forget how many items they are showing."

On Oct. 21, Payne entered El Paseo Jewelers, introduced herself as "Audrey" and was shown about a dozen necklaces, he said. She left without buying anything but returned an hour later and asked to see some rings, according to Yamaguchi.

"(An employee) showed her numerous diamond rings and several very high-priced rings," Yamaguchi said.

She told the employee she would come back the next day with a $12,000 cashier's check from Bank of America to buy some pieces and left. The next day, employees realized the ring was missing, according to Yamaguchi.

Someone "remembered last seeing the ring on the female's left pinkie finger," he wrote. "Due to the large amount of inventory out on the display case at once and her charming personality, he must have forgotten to retrieve the ring from her before she left."

Using images captured Oct. 18 in Saks Fifth Avenue in Palm Desert, deputies identified the woman as Payne, and a store security guard recognized her "from the company's run-in with Payne in 2010," when she was arrested for theft, according to Yamaguchi.

The ring she allegedly stole in Palm Desert was found by police on Nov. 6 at a second-hand jewelry dealer in Palm Desert.

Payne's record includes:

- Pleading no contest in June 2011 to stealing a $16,000 ring from a
Santa Monica jewelry store, for which she sentenced to 16 months in prison.

- A January 2011 conviction for stealing an $8,900 ring from Macy's in
San Diego for which she was given five years in prison.

- An April 2010 conviction for stealing a $1,300 Burberry trench coat from a Saks store in Costa Mesa for which she got a year in jail.

- A July 2009 grand theft conviction in Santa Clara County.

- A conviction for stealing an $8,500 ring in Nevada in 2005.

- A 1999 conviction for stealing a ring from a Neiman Marcus store in
Denver for which she was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Reported by City News Service

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