83-year-old suspected jewelry thief has history of pricey heists

PALM DESERT, CA (KESQ/KGTV/CNN) – An 83-year-old woman claiming to be an international jewel thief with five decades of experience may have struck again, this time in California.

"I've got to give it to her craft, because she is good at what she does," said the general manager of El Paseo Jewelers.

The general manager did not want his identity to be revealed, but he wants people to know he came face to face with the jewel thief.

"When you see somebody that old, you don't think that they're going to steal something from you," he said.

The suspect is Doris Payne, and her criminal career began when she was just 23 years old and walked out of a Pittsburgh jewelry story with a $22,000 diamond; 60 years later, she's still at it, getting away on El Paseo with an engagement ring of the same value.

"It's a 1.5 carat diamond in the center and two carats on the side and some paradigm in the rounded. Its $22,500 retail value," the general manager said.

Payne claims to have shoplifted jewelry from New York to Monte Carlo, using at least 22 different aliases. The one she used in the latest heist was "Audrey."

"She told us she lost all her jewelry to a theft and she got insurance money for it for $42,000," the general manager said.

The general manager said he spent 45 minutes showing Payne more than $100,000 worth of jewelry and didn't notice her slip the piece away.

A similar incident happened in 2011 when she was convicted of stealing a pricey ring from a Macy's department store in San Diego.

"To say that I have no remorse, that's people who don't know me," Payne said at her last court appearance.

For victims of her theft, that's hard to believe. Payne has been jailed in several states, and many are skeptical if justice will ever be served.

"She should go to jail but that's not going to happen. So she'll be out again and doing it to somebody else."

"She should go to jail but that's not going to happen. So she'll be out again and doing it to somebody else," the general manager said.

Payne will be arraigned on Nov. 5.

Copyright KESQ, KGTV via CNN. All rights reserved.