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London riots: Residents demand tougher policing after third night of burning, looting [VIDEO]

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“I just didn’t expect trouble here and it was really frightening," says Erin Allen, originally from Los Angeles. “I’m not sure why the police are not dealing with them and letting these youths take things from shops. Back in L.A., the police would be a lot stronger.”

Fellow American Joseph Corcoran, a banker from Philadelphia, had to evacuate his two-bed apartment above a Subway food outlet around midnight after the neighboring Party Party costume store was set alight. He said: “I could smell smoke and decided to leave – it was pretty freaky. I’ve not been allowed back in yet and I stayed with my girlfriend overnight.”

Employees of the Party Party store now face an uncertain future.

“I’m really upset about what’s happened – these people are scum," says store worker Andy Hynes. "My boss has been up all night and is frantic, not knowing what’s going to happen. There’s 30 of us who work in that shop and what’s going to happen now?”

Photography shop owners Mick Jennar and Diane Wallace watched on TV with bated breath last night as the youths looted nearby shops. Mr Jennar said: “We’ve just spent £25,000 [$40,010] on a refit, so we could only watch and pray they didn’t touch the place.” Thankfully for him, they didn't.

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