"We don't see a lot of criminals like Doris Payne," said John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers' Security Alliance.
Payne grew up in the coal-mining town of Slab Fork, W.Va., her imagination fueled by "Gone With the Wind" and its depictions of women she would impersonate for the rest of her life. In her mother's dresses and hats, she would roam the house, clicking her heels, talking to Rhett Butler.
"I think that movie contributed as much to what I became as anything else in my life," Payne said.
When she was 13, she was trying on watches at a local store when a white customer entered. The owner dismissed Payne, who is black, and she realized she could walk out with the merchandise. "I could cause this man, the white man, to forget."
For the next several years, Payne said, she practiced lifting jewelry but never stole anything, though her son, Ronald, said in an interview that his mother did keep the goods during that time.
Payne said she stole her first diamond at age 27, hoping to raise money to help her mother leave an abusive husband. She remembers her mother's reaction: "She said, 'Doris, don't you know that's stealing?' "
"I'm not stealing, because I'm just going to keep what they let me have," she replied.
-- DeeDee Correll, in a true crime story that, in one fell swoop, dispels all the black victim stories out there, in the Los Angeles Times.