DeKalb County

‘I ain't runnin': Wanted notorious 86-year-old jewelry thief misses court date

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A notorious 86-year-old jewelry thief says she is still too sick to stand trial.

Doris Payne faces a bench warrant after missing a court date in DeKalb County on Monday. She told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she wasn't able to go because of health issues.

“I ain’t runnin’,” she said in a phone interview. “Medically, I was not able to go.”

She said she's been dealing with severe pain, trouble with balance and draining tests related to a lump in her neck.

“It might be cancerous. It may not,” she said.


Payne’s hearing was related to a theft charge from a December arrest at Perimeter Mall. She said she’s tried to get paperwork to show her condition, but it hasn’t come through yet. Police arrested her and charged her with stealing a necklace from the Van Maur store.

She's also accused of stealing a pair of earrings from Saks Fifth Avenue at Phipps Plaza in October 2015.

Payne was also featured in a 2013 documentary, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.”

"I've taken a one and a half carat out of Monte Carlo. There has never been a day that I went to steal that I did not get what I want," Payne said in the documentary.

“According to my research, when she was 20 year old, she started committing crimes,” said Atlanta Police Sgt. Warren Pickard.

Police said she has made a lifelong career out of stealing. Mug shots of her arrests date back to the 1960’s.

Her current condition is a new challenge, one that’s kept her down recently, with sometimes intense pain that makes her feel like she’s dying, and confusion over what the cause might be.

Doctors are so far “baffled” by the lump’s behavior.

She’s baffled how the pain comes and goes. But she said the fact that it dissipates often gives her hope that it isn’t cancer.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.