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The Grandmother Diamond Thief, Doris Payne

Most people in their 80’s use this time to relax, enjoy their time with family and grandchildren, and reflect on the long life they have lived. Then there is Doris Payne, an 83 year old woman who plead guilty to theft.

In October 2013, Doris walked into an upscale jewelry store in Riverside County, California. She proceeded to say that she wanted to spend $42,000 she received from an insurance check. Workers began helping her try on necklaces, rings, bracelets, and other jewelry they had to offer. Doris decided to purchase 3 pieces that day, one being a $22,500 diamond and white gold ring.

She told the workers that she would be back in the morning with the money to purchase the items. Later that day, the employees realized the ring she had tried on was missing.

Doris Payne is a rumored international jewel thief whose record dates back more than 60 years; the beginning of her criminal history dates back to 1952. She even admits to using about 20 different aliases linked to 5 different social security numbers, and 9 dates of birth on file. It is said that she uses her age to gain the trust of victims, she did not complete her last probation and parole, and was on parole when she stole the ring.

Before this incident, Doris Payne’s fame was very much unknown. After this notoriety, there has been a documentary about her life and stealing escapades called “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne”, as well as her story being featured on TV and in newspapers.  There’s even talk of a movie starring Halle Berry to portray her life.

Doris Payne recently plead guilty to stealing the ring, and was sentenced to 4 years in custody, 2 years in jail and 2 under mandatory supervision. Her life and criminal acts are oddly interesting.

As entertaining as this story is, we still have to look at how we can use her to better make identity theft monitoring. People have started to wonder how she could have so many social security numbers tied to multiple names.  Doris Payne was able to make multiple aliases and birth certificates during a time when technology was not a major part of life. If it was this easy for her in the past, then it must be much easier now to create a new identity.

What do you think should be done to better regulate social security numbers and identity theft? How do you think she could have gotten away with these crimes without being caught? How do you think probation and parole should be changed to better monitor their clients?

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