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Jewel Thief Doris Payne Charged With Walmart Theft

Doris Payne told NBC News she simply forgot to pay for the items.
Image: Doris Payne
Doris Payne in a booking photo from March 2017.DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

Doris Payne, the notorious 86-year-old jewel thief, was arrested Monday for allegedly shoplifting at an Atlanta-area Walmart — while wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet from a previous bust.

Although she was quickly released on bond, she was re-arrested Tuesday and jailed on a probation violation stemming from an earlier theft conviction.

Payne, who is by turns charming and feisty, told NBC News before she was locked up that she simply 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.

Image: Doris Payne
Octogenarian jewel thief Doris Payne at a recent court hearing. She was arrested again this week.NBC News

The octogenarian, whose career as an international bling bandit spans six decades, said she had taken some medicine that muddled her mind before she went shopping.

"It causes me to forget," she said.

She 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.

The police report tells a different story. It says 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 nabbed her as she left the store and the items — which totaled $86.22 — were returned to the store. Payne was taken to the City of Chamblee Jail, booked on a shoplifting charge and released.

Despite her past exploits, chronicled in a Netflix documentary, Payne insisted she didn't mean to steal anything from Walmart.

Doris Payne's career as a thief spans decades.
Doris Payne's career as a thief spans decades.11alive

"I have a money card with $7,000 on it," she said, adding that she is in the midst of negotiating a book deal and a movie deal.

Payne's attorney, Drew Findling, said it doesn't make sense that Payne would steal a bunch of necessities from the big-box store, which "is a far cry from what historically people associate with Doris Payne."

"There's no brooch, no diamond pendant, no earrings. She was at Walmart," he said. "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."

Payne was on probation for stealing a $2,000 necklace from a department store jewelry counter. The judge made her wear an ankle monitor and ordered her to stay out retail stores.

Findling said it's possible Payne could face prison time because of the Walmart episode.

"At her age, that would be tragic," he said. "At my office, we're treating this like her life is on the line."