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Turlock store clerk arrested for helping stage robbery

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TURLOCK, Calif. (KTXL) -- An apparent robbery was captured on surveillance video from inside a Turlock convenience store but police say what really happened tells a much different story.

The call came from Amar Beer Wine and Gas on Bothun Road. When police got there on that Friday night in October, they found security footage of what looked like a typical robbery.

A masked man came in, demanded cash from the register and took off.

But nearly one month after the alleged crime, police say they caught the two people responsible. They had arrested the man in the mask and someone visible to the surveillance cameras -- the very man behind the counter.

Officers identified the thief as 41-year-old Joseph Edward Tosta of Turlock.

Police say during an interview with detectives, Tosta not only admitted to the crime but also said he worked with store clerk Larry Thornton to make it look like a robbery.

Police say two others corroborated the claim.

Officers arrested Thornton at his Manteca home where he later admitted to staging the theft.

The pair face charges for second-degree burglary. Turlock police say the store clerk faces additional charges for embezzlement and filing a false police report.

“We knew he did it when it happened,” said Jim McDonald, a regular at the convenience store.

McDonald told FOX40 Thornton talked openly about the apparent robbery.

“'Oh, a guy robbed me,’ just like it was nothing,” McDonald said. “If someone robbed me, I’d be pretty upset about it. I don't know, he was too casual about it if you ask me.”

He said he was suspicious of the clerk’s involvement from the start and hopes others learn from his mistake.

“Something was not right and I just figured they’ll figure it out sooner or later,” McDonald said. “Just don’t do it. Stay away from crime.”

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