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Loss prevention officer, protecting clients’ assets

By: Marie-Claire Asseko
March 17, 2017

The Loss Prevention Officer position is little known to the general public. Yet, every day, hundreds of loss prevention officers are working on our clients’ sites. Patrick Desforges, Associate Manager, Loss Prevention, sheds the light on the tasks and responsibilities of the job.

At first, the mandate of a loss prevention officer seems pretty simple: it is to ensure that the merchandise that comes out of the client’s store or warehouse has been paid for. They also operate in distribution centres, airplanes, hotels and any other place where one would want to appropriate our clients’ assets. There are two types of theft to monitor and procedures to handle them can vary greatly depending on the client’s policies and applicable legislation.

On one hand, “when the theft is committed by a person of the general public, the agent can step in” says Patrick. The suspect may refuse to cooperate with the loss prevention officer, and he has to involve police forces.

On the other hand, sometimes, it is employees who commit theft. In cases of internal theft, the loss prevention officer does not intervene or call out the employee at fault. His role is to report the situation to the client’s site supervisor so that he avoids interfering with a possible ongoing investigation.

In training, loss prevention officers learn the conditions under which they can intervene and how to properly arrest a suspect. GardaWorld also encourages agents to further develop skills that are essential to their responsibilities:

  • Sound judgment

  • Keen sense of observation and analytical skills

  • Strong instinct and understanding of body language

  • Discretion

  • Honesty

  • Reactivity and composure

  • Ability to negotiate with people, encourage them to cooperate

  • Leadership and charisma

  • Good physical condition to be able to intervene physically

“It’s a job that gives you a lot of satisfaction when you spot and track a suspect, regardless of the amount of the theft,” says Patrick. Being flexible is also an important requirement of the position because each client’s site operates according to its own protocols.

His advice to those considering a loss prevention career? “Give 100%, get involved! It is the best school in security because it trains you towards other professions such as bodyguard or private investigator for instance”.

After several years and more than 1,500 arrests as loss prevention officer, Patrick started a career in investigations, which he pursued until 2011 before being promoted to the position of Associate Manager, Loss Prevention Services. Today, Patrick is managing 150 GardaWorld agents on the field. He is also involved in the recruitment, training, planning and management of his team and also contributes to business development.

His passion for field work never left him. Whether he is in a shopping centre or grocery store, his sense of observation catches up with him and he sometimes notices suspects, even if he is not working. “Whether it’s a theft worth $2 or $200, for me there is no difference. A theft is a theft “.