TRADERS left feeling “vulnerable” after a shopkeeper was racially abused and attacked by thugs have banded together.

Nicola Killington, who owns Revive in High Street, Wanstead, decided to take positive action after hearing about what happened to Imran Asghar, who owns The Tool Box.

He was at work three weeks ago when yobs barged in taunted “you smell like curry” and “we’ll rape your mum” before stealing items.

Earlier that same day, Ms Killington managed to catch a shoplifter who had tried to steal an item – and she has decided enough is enough.

“It was a scary situation, my sense of anxiety has heightened after what happened to Imran because I am on my own, so that adds to me feeling vulnerable,” she said.

“It’s just one of those things you deal with on a daily basis.”

The traders have created a WhatsApp group to try and bring them together and be on alert when they see suspicious activity.

The 38-year-old has owned her shop for the last 15 years.

There has always been a “little” bit of crime in the area, she says, and she is often a victim of shoplifting.

As a result, she closed the shop for a morning and recruited 30 traders to the group, which include The Cuckfield to Lillies of Wanstead Flowers.

She urged business owners to speak to each other more frequently to stave off crime.

“There’s not much communication between us down this end of the high street. I just thought if we could avoid this kind of situation if we had this group.

“We could avoid these problems if we spoke.

“There have already been dodgy £50 notes going around.”

The group has already prevented a potential incident in Ms Killington’s shop.

Last week, two “shady” people tried to see if the security tags on some of the clothes she sells would come off.

She sent a message to the WhatsApp group and two fellow traders immediately walked in to deter the would-be thiefs.

The Revive owner said she was keen on recruiting more traders to the group from further down the high street, and welcomed the possibility of more joining.

“We encourage as many people as possible to join. It’s open to all business owners in the high street,” she said.