Lifelong jewelry thief arrested; to be played by Halle Berry in upcoming film

COSTA MESA — A 79-year-old woman who made a career of stealing jewelry from unsuspecting jewelry store clerks — and whose story will be told in an upcoming film starring Halle Berry — was arrested Friday.

According to Costa Mesa police, security guards for the Saks Fifth Avenue store in South Coast Plaza believe Doris Payne removed the tags form a $1,300 Burberry trench coat, put it on and exited the store.

Payne was taken into custody and is being held without bail for a parole violation. She was reportedly scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.

The Orange County Register reports that Payne’s career as a jewelry thief goes back to her teenage years and led her around the world to steal treasures from cities such as London, Paris and Monte Carlo, along with New York, Denver and Las Vegas.

Payne’s technique is said to have relied on her charm and ability to distract, confuse and generally bamboozle store clerks enough that they wouldn’t realize she’d pilfered a piece.

Payne spent much of the last decade in a Colorado prison after a string of heists, but was released on parole in 2008, returned to California and remained free until her Friday arrest.

According to, the film about Payne’s life, currently titled “Who Is Doris Payne?”, is listed as in development with a 2010 release date and Berry as the only actor attached to the project.

Doris Payne


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