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Pair arrested in Save Mart theft scheme

Two people were arrested early Saturday by Merced police in connection with the grand theft of about $16,500 in merchandise from a Merced supermarket over the course of several months.

Sgt. Rod Dash of the Merced Police Department said store employee Arty Huston Ryals Jr., 35, of Los Banos and Victoria Darlene Bass, 52, of Merced, were booked into Merced County Jail on grand theft charges where they remained Sunday night. They were arrested at 1:09 a.m. Saturday at the Save Mart supermarket, 150 W. Olive Ave.

Dash said Ryals failed to scan Bass' merchandise in exchange for Vicodin pain medication. He said the store's loss prevention officers documented more than 12 occasions of theft with their surveillance system.

In the incident early Saturday morning, Bass selected $642.87 worth of merchandise and was allowed to leave the store without making any attempt to pay for the items, Dash said.

Officer Sam Sannadan said Ryals told officers he would call Bass and pre-arrange a time twice-weekly for her to come to the store and make their transactions. He then would fail to scan merchandise in exchange for pain medication.

Ryals posted $15,000 bond and was released from jail. Bass remains jailed on a no-bail hold because she is on state parole, according to a correctional official.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209 385-2485 or