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Serial Publix shoplifting suspects caught in Sebastian, part of ‘criminal organization'

Posted at 5:22 PM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 05:35:34-04

Law enforcement officers are pointing to the arrest of a couple for shoplifting at a Publix as a possible clue into a large criminal organization, court records state.

Hendi Llerena, of Davie, was caught as a lookout while her boyfriend, Justin Wolf, of Pembroke Pines, attempted to shoplift from a Publix on U.S. 1 Wednesday evening, according to a Sebastian Police report. 

Investigators say they were targeting over-the-counter allergy medication. Llerena reportedly told an officer she and Wolf “play a small role in a larger criminal organization’s scheme” shoplifting from Publix stores.

A store manager called police saying she spotted a couple inside the Sebastian Publix who matched the description of two suspects that have been shoplifting from Publix’s around Florida, the report states. 

The manager saw Wolf grabbing a shelf worth of items, mostly allergy medicine, and placing them into a shopping cart. When police arrived, officers say Llerena ran to her car and Wolf ditched the shopping cart.

The two were wanted for stealing over-the-counter allergy medication from a Vero Beach Publix earlier in the day. A store manager said she saw the pair clear a shelf worth of items and place them into a shopping cart, but the pair left before police arrived. 

A store manager said she saw Llerena act as a look-out for Wolf as he cleared a shelf and put the allergy medicine into a shopping cart. 

Records show Wolf has open warrants for his arrest in Sarasota and Broward Counties. Llerena also has an open warrant in Sarasota County.

A spokesperson for Sebastian police said officers handed over their investigation to the Indian River Sheriff’s Office to be part of a larger investigation.

When officers found Llerena in her car parked in the Publix parking lot, say she was very nervous and kept making movements towards a backpack with a lock on it. They say she had a reusable grocery bag filled with allergy medications. 

Llerena started crying, reportedly telling officers her boyfriend stole the medicine from a different Publix earlier in the day. 

Llerena said she and Wolf have been shoplifting from Publix stores throughout Florida, the report states. She said they take the stolen items to Broward County, where they live, and sell them to a friend. 

She allegedly said she alerted her boyfriend to police coming. Wolf denied shoplifting.

Wolf and Llerena were arrested and booked into the Indian River County Jail. They are facing a charge of grand theft.