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At 82, veteran burglar is behind bars again

Doris Thompson, who has 25 aliases and a rap sheet dating to 1955, is accused of stealing from doctors' offices.

September 01, 2012|By Jeff Gottlieb and Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
  • Doris Thompson, in booking photo, is accused of burglarizing doctors' offices.
Doris Thompson, in booking photo, is accused of burglarizing doctors'… (Torrance Police Department )

The last time she was in court, Doris Thompson — then 80 years old — was pleading guilty to burglarizing a medical office in Torrance. Old age infirmities appeared to be catching up with her. When the judge asked her if Doris Thompson was her name, she answered, "I can't hear you."

The prosecutor moved closer, and Thompson moved closer. "Can you hear well now?" Judge Thomas Sokolov asked.

"Yes, I can," Thompson answered, although the judge asked her four more times whether she could hear.

When the prosecutor asked if she were happy with the three years in prison she would receive as part of her plea agreement — instead of the 12 years she could have gotten — Thompson responded: "Oh, yes yes. More than I deserve. Yes. Thank you."

"Just don't come back," Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Paulette Paccione admonished.

"I think I'll end up in the morgue before I come back," Thompson replied.

She may have spoken too soon.

Now 82, Thompson — who has 25 aliases — was arrested Thursday and booked on suspicion of commercial burglary. Torrance Police Sgt. Robert Watt said the department is submitting evidence on eight burglaries to the district attorney's office Tuesday for possible charges. Thompson is being held on $80,000 bail.

Watt said Thompson targeted doctors' offices. He said she would enter an office, hide until closing and search for keys to the cash box. He said she stole about $17,000.

Thompson was arrested at an El Segundo hotel without incident, Watt said, and police found evidence linking her to the burglaries.

Watt said a detective who had dealt with Thompson identified her from a video that allegedly caught her in the act. The detective recognized her distinctive hair, which Thompson wears in a stand-on-its-end electric style similar to boxing promoter Don King.

Thompson has a 20-page rap sheet dating to 1955. Burglary appears to be her chosen career.

According to court records, Thompson has been imprisoned at least nine times for burglary in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The first time she spent time behind bars was in 1983, when she was 53, according to the records. It is not clear why they don't go back further.

As in the current case, a security camera was Thompson's undoing two years ago, when she was caught prying open drawers with a chisel and a screwdriver at the Children's Medical Group in Torrance. She had hidden in a restroom until employees left.

Thompson took $400 in cash and checks, $25 worth of stamps, a device used to test children's hearing and a plastic urine container with a total value of about $1,400.

She was recognized by a Torrance detective who remembered her from a bulletin Beverly Hills police put out a few years earlier for a similar crime.

"That's her M.O.," Paccione said at the time. "What she does is she goes in with her little burglar bag. She takes cash, stamps, whatever she can find."

Although Thompson assured the court her burglarizing days were over, Paccione wasn't so sure. "I don't think this will stop her from doing this again," Paccione said at the time. "She's not really apologetic about it. This is her thing."

jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com

matt.stevens@latimes.com

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