Preliminary hearing scheduled today in case against international jewelry thief

83-year old Doris Payne is accused of stealing a diamond ring from an El Paseo Jewelry store

INDIO, Calif. - A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for an 83-year-old jewel thief accused of stealing a $22,500 diamond ring from a Palm Desert store.

Doris Marie Payne allegedly swiped the 3.5-carat ring Oct. 21 from El Paseo Jewelers. She pleaded not guilty on Nov. 5 to one felony count each of grand theft and burglary and is being held in lieu of $65,000 bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for Payne to stand trial.

Payne, whose career as an international jewelry thief was made into a documentary film, was released from prison three months ago and was on probation for felony theft in a Los Angeles case when the crime in Palm Desert occurred.

She reportedly had been living at a Riverside motel.

``The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne'' premiered in April at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto. In the documentary, Payne says her ``methodology of stealing jewelry took me all over the world ... New York, Milan, Paris, Rome, London.''

In a declaration in support of an arrest warrant, Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Adan Yamaguchi wrote that Payne would ``typically charm the sales associate and ask to see multiple items at once, causing the sales associate to forget how many items they are showing.''

On Oct. 21, Payne entered El Paseo Jewelers, introduced herself as ``Audrey'' and was shown about a dozen necklaces, he said. She left without buying anything but returned an hour later and asked to see some rings, according to Yamaguchi.

``(An employee) showed her numerous diamond rings and several very high-priced rings,'' Yamaguchi said.

She told the employee she would come back the next day with a $12,000 cashier's check from Bank of America to buy some pieces and left.

The next day, employees realized the ring was missing, according to Yamaguchi.

Using images captured Oct. 18 in Saks Fifth Avenue in Palm Desert, deputies identified the woman as Payne, and a store security guard recognized her ``from the company's run-in with Payne in 2010,'' when she was arrested for theft, according to Yamaguchi.

The ring she allegedly stole in Palm Desert was found by police on Nov. 6 at a second-hand jewelry dealer in Palm Desert.

If convicted in the Palm Desert case, Payne faces up to six years in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse.

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