A SHOP owner who was targeted by two female thieves posing as customers has warned other traders to be on their guard.

A young woman and an older companion who did not appear to speak English entered Willows Complementary Centre in The Broadway, Highams Park, today and appeared interested in treatments.

The receptionist, who was in the shop on her own at the time, was talking to them when the older woman asked to use the toilet.

She then asked for help to turn on the light but when the receptionist’s back was turned, the younger woman took £90 from the till.

One of the women then gave the receptionist a necklace before chanting the word Allah three times. The women then left and boarded the 212 bus towards Walthamstow.

The receptionist then soon noticed the money missing and raised the alarm.

Owner Maria Briscoe said: “We were robbed in broad daylight, I’m shocked. It makes me really angry because they’re targeting small businesses who don’t have as many staff so they can pull these kind of tricks.

“It’s frightening that this can happen in the middle of the day.”

The theft has been reported to the police.

The women are described as being of Roma gypsy appearance and the older woman was wearing a headscarf.

Anyone with information is asked to call Police on 101.

The Metropolitan Police said: "Thieves are always looking out for an opportunity. If you are a business owner and the public have access to areas where you keep personal belongings, please keep them locked away.

"If anyone has any information, please contact Hale End and Highams Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team on 020 8721 2646.

Keep all cash and valuables, such as mobile phones out of sight. Smart phones and media players are becoming must-have items for many people - that includes criminals too. They simply see these items as cash."

Click here to follow the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian on Twitter