Payne has been pulling light jewelry heists for decades, from Monte Carlo, Britain, France, Italy, Monaco and even Japan to California, and has served prison sentences in six states. She claims she resorted to a life of crime because she mentioned to someone her dream of becoming a ballerina and they told her there was no such thing as black ballerinas.
Once as a teenager, she was in a jewelry store when white privilege reared its ugly head. The clerk was assisting her with a gold watch until a white woman entered. He ditched her for the white customer and as she proceeded to leave the store, she realized how easy it would have been to walk out the door with the watch that was hanging from her wrist. This was the one time she didn’t steal; she returned the watch. But, she walked away with a new vice under her belt, a trademark distraction trick.
Payne has no regrets about stealing jewelry, only about being caught.
There are rumors her lifetime of crime will be the subject of a documentary titled The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne and will be played by Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry.