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Store clerk accused of helping stage robbery
Two suspects arrested for Turlock heist
larry thornton
Larry Thornton - photo by Photo Contributed

The robbery of a Turlock liquor store in October was not the work of a lone suspect, but rather a staged event orchestrated by two men, one of whom was an employee at the store, according to the Turlock Police Department.

The unraveling of the scheme led to the arrest of two suspects on a litany of criminal charges. Joseph Tosta, 41, of Turlock was booked into the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center on charges of burglary, grand theft and conspiracy. Larry Thornton, 23, of Manteca was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement, burglary, conspiracy, and making a false police report.

The incident began around 10:30 p.m. Oct. 25 when a masked man entered Amar Beer, Wine & Gas at 1570 East Avenue and demanded the money from the register. The store’s video surveillance showed the suspect confronting the clerk — Thornton — and acting as if he had a weapon, though none was ever seen. The suspect took cash from the register and then fled the store.

joseph tosta
Joseph Tosta - photo by Photo Contributed

Four days later, Turlock Police detectives received information that Tosta was the masked suspect. Detectives were able to locate Tosta in Turlock and took him into custody after finding him in possession of methamphetamine and evidence that he was selling it, said Turlock Police spokesperson Sgt. Michael Parmley.

During a police interview, Tosta allegedly admitted to being involved in the theft, but claimed it was only staged to look like a robbery. He said he and the cashier Thornton were in on it together.

The course of the investigation led detectives to other witnesses who confirmed Tosta’s account, Parmley said.

On Nov. 13, Thornton was located in Manteca and taken into custody. He was transported to Turlock and under questioning admitted to his role in the theft, Parmley said.

Thornton was released from the jail on his own recognizance, while Tosta remains in custody in lieu of bail.