Doris Payne, 80-Year-Old Jewel Thief, Headed Back to Prison for SoCal Diamond Heist

Doris Payne in a Las Vegas jail in 2005 (AP)

(CBS/AP) A hardened jewel thief - an 80-year old woman with a criminal history that's decades long - gets convicted of stealing a diamond ring, and is sentenced to prison...for the third time. The judge says the octogenarian outlaw named Doris Payne "has a nice way about her."

If it sounds like a movie waiting to happen... well, The Los Angeles Times reports Hollywood producers are thinking of making a film about her starring Halle Berry.

Payne was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison for stealing a diamond ring worth nearly $9,000 from a San Diego department store in January 2010. She was found guilty last month of burglary and grand theft in connection with the heist at a Macy's in San Diego.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Frank Brown said Payne deserved the maximum sentence because she has several prior convictions for theft and has previously been sent to prison twice.

On Jan. 2, 2010, Payne approached the jewelry counter at Macy's in the Fashion Valley shopping center, identified herself to a saleswoman as "Audrey," and said she was looking for a ring for her daughter, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. She managed to distract the saleswoman and exit the store with an $8,900 diamond ring.

Payne told a detective later that she sold the ring for $1,800.

The Los Angeles Times describes Payne as an international jewel thief for more than half a century.

A West Hollywood film crew has been in San Diego filming a documentary about Payne's life, according to CBS station KCAL.

Deputy District Attorney John Pro told the court that Payne has engaged in criminal activity for about 35 years and has gloated about it.

"She's made a lifelong career out of stealing and taking advantage of people," Pro said.

The judge dismissed a request by defense lawyer Gretchen von Helms to consider imposing a lesser prison term, possibly three years. Arguing that "there's more to her than her prior history,"

Von Helms pointed out that Payne had also devoted her life to raising two children and caring for her ailing mother.

Judge Brown conceded that Payne - a small, white-haired woman - has "a nice way about her, a nice manner," but said ultimately, "she's a thief."

When it was her turn to speak, Payne denied ever gloating about her past.

"To say I have no remorse, that's people who don't know me or people who think remorse is tears and lies," Payne said. "I have never gloated about stealing. I never saw anything to gloat


The Union Tribune said Payne could face extradition to Michigan, where she is accused of stealing a three-diamond ring from a Neiman Marcus in 1998.