Published: Feb 19, 2013 6:50 PM EST
Updated: Feb 19, 2013 6:53 PM EST

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fl. - A store security officer badly beaten after reportedly catching shoplifters in the act.

Charlotte County Deputies are searching for three suspects and hope surveillance video will help.

Cuts and bruises to his face and head.  His mouth wired shut after injuries to his jaw.  Deputies say this loss prevention officer should be thankful he's alive.

"The fact that they did something as bad as knocking him to the ground and kicking him and actually physically doing damage i mean when you kick somebody in the head, they could die," says Joe Fiorini, Community Policing Officer.

Deputy Fiorini says shoplifting cases don't normally end with violence.

"...Resist and pull away and stuff but to actually start hitting somebody that's quite unusual for this area," he adds.

Surveillance video from inside the Kmart near the mall shows the three suspects entering the store.  Later, one leaves after the officer says he witnessed him stuffing merchandise down his pants.

Deputies say the officer approached the suspect outside and was attacked from behind. 

"The suspects in that case could be charged with as high as attempted murder," he adds.