Shop owners targeted in a series of robberies have reacted angrily after a senior police officer rejected their calls for CCTV cameras to protect businesses.
A number of Jewish businesses in Temple Fortune, North-West London, have been hit by ram raiders and gangs stealing expensive items, such as designer handbags and sunglasses.
In the most recent incident, Lorretta Paterson, who runs gift shop Temptations, was severely beaten by a gang which stole her car.
But Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Tucker, the acting borough commander of Barnet Police, maintained this week that the area, at the heart of the Jewish community, is no more a target than other locations covered by his officers.
Barnet Council dismayed traders when it said last month that on-street cameras would not be installed until 2011, a decision which Mr Tucker supports.
He said: “There is not a high volume of crime in Temple Fortune. There are two shops in particular which have suffered crimes and we have worked with them to put in technical equipment.
“There has to be a balance in terms of what we can do. There are not a huge number of crimes committed there.
“We want CCTV everywhere quickly, but the cash has to be prioritised. The pot of money is finite.”
Since being attacked, Mrs Paterson has collected signatures from 2,000 people petitioning for cameras to be installed ahead of 2011. She said: “I am gobsmacked by the borough commander’s remarks. They are just not fair. People need to know the police are doing something.
“If Mr Tucker spent one day in my shop talking to people he would definitely have a change of heart. If you walk up and down here, it’s all women in the shops and they are all scared to go out or do anything.”
In August, Marian Zandi and her staff were threatened with a knife as a balaclava-clad gang stole around £10,000 worth of handbags during a raid on the exclusive Larizia boutique.
It has been targeted 11 times in the past three years.
Genevieve, another Jewish business a quarter of a mile from Larizia, has been forced to hire a private guard and install bollards to deter ram-raiders.
A spokesman said: “It’s quite worrying . We had hoped the CCTV would be put in sooner rather than later. We’ve had a substantial problem all year, Mrs Paterson has had her face smashed, Larizia has had cars driven through its windows; how is that not a problem?”