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Infamous 86-Year Old Jewel Thief Busted for Shoplifting in a Georgia Wal*Mart

In what is certainly a bizarre twist to a six-decade criminal career as a high-end jewel thief, 86-year-old Doris Payne was arrested for shoplifting in a Georgia Wal*Mart. The arrest, which was reported in the Daily News, charged Payne with the theft of items from the grocery, electronics and pharmacy departments with a total worth of $86.22. Payne’s criminal career began in the 1950’s, where she is believed to have been involved in a number of high-profile heists across the globe, including a theft in Monte Carlo of a 10.5 carat diamond.

In 2015, Payne was charged with stealing a $2,000 necklace from an Atlanta department store. Payne allegedly put the necklace in her back pocket and attempted to leave the store. She was arraigned for the crime, and had a court date set in DeKalb County, which she missed, meaning she now faces a bench warrant for that crime. Payne says she was in no way attempting to skip out on her court date, rather she was simply medically unable to show up, due to severe pain in her neck.

Doris Payne was featured in The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, a 2013 documentary. In the documentary, Payne claimed she had never gone to steal something and left without the item—in other words, she was a very good thief. In her more recent history, police suspected Payne of stealing an engagement ring from a South Park Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina, worth as much as $32,000. It is estimated that over the last six decades, Payne has stolen more than $2 million dollars’ worth of jewelry.

Georgia Shoplifting Laws
If a person engages in specific behaviors, and has the intention of removing items in a store without giving money to the owner for the merchandise, he or she may be guilty of shoplifting under Georgia law. Some of the specific actions which constitute shoplifting include the following:

• Altering the price tag of an item;
• Deliberately transferring a more expensive item to a container with a marked lower price;
• Moving a price tag from a less expensive item to a more expensive item;
• Switching labels from one item to another;
• Taking possession of merchandise without paying for the merchandise, and
• Concealing merchandise in an attempt to leave the store without paying.

Misdemeanor or Felony?
Whether the charges for theft of an item will be a misdemeanor or felony depends on the worth of the item or items taken. Generally speaking, if a person shoplifts items with a total worth of $300 or less, the offense will be charged as a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. For the same offense for a person who has a prior conviction for shoplifting, the penalty is a mandatory minimum fine of $250, up to a $1,000 fine, and up to one year in jail. If the person has two prior shoplifting convictions, shoplifting charges for items totaling $300 or less can result in a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail, up to one year in jail, or 120 days confinement in a community correctional facility. The fine assessed can be as large as $1,000, and the person convicted of the crime could be ordered to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment.

If the property shoplifted is worth $300 or less and the person has three prior convictions for shoplifting, then the current charges will be felony charges. The fines for this conviction are at the discretion of the court, and the person convicted could receive a sentence of 1-10 years in jail, with a mandatory one-year sentence. If the value of the items taken are more than $300, the crime will be charged as a felony.

The court has discretion to set the fine, and the jail sentence will be between one and ten years. Shoplifting property from three separate businesses within one county, during a period of seven days or less when the worth of the items exceeds $100 from each store will be charged as a felony. If convicted, the court has discretion to set the fines, and the jail term will be from one to ten years.

The person convicted of shoplifting in Georgia may also face civil suits. Merchants who are deprived of their merchandise could be entitled to receive damages which equal what the property is worth. If the value of the merchandise is less than $5,000, the owner of the merchandise may be able to sue for twice the amount of the worth of the property or $150—whichever amount is greater.

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