A mob of schoolgirls hurled racist insults at a Muslim shop worker and tore a hijab from her head in shocking town-centre abuse.

Masoomeh Jafari, 26, was left terrified when she was targeted after a group of "20 to 30" young people poured into Poundland in Sutton High Street.

About five of the girls, thought to be aged between 11 and 14, called her a "f***ing Muslim" after she tried to stop them stealing things at about 3pm on Sunday. One girl was said to have repeatedly ripped off the shop worker's headscarf.

Miss Jafari, who lives in Sutton town centre, said: "They came in here shouting and stealing things and I told them to stop.

"A group started swearing at me, saying things about my religion and the clothes I wear. Then they grabbed my head scarf twice.

"I was very frightened."

A member of the public who came to Miss Jarafi's help and later called the police said she was appalled by what she witnessed.

Patricia Rose, 69, of Belmont, said: "I was sat in Costa when a big group of girls and a few boys come into the shop.

"They were saying 'f*** this' and 'f*** that' and they were trying to get back into the shop after they had tried to steal things.

"I then went into Poundland and saw the lady. She is a delightful person and her head was down.

"She told me that the children had pulled at her hijab and had sworn at her.

"It's so, so wrong what they did."

Police officers attended the shop but the group had left and there was no CCTV footage to help identify those involved.

Shop staff believe some of the young people were Greenshaw High School pupils who have previously stolen from the store and shouted Islamophobic abuse at Miss Jafari, who has worked there for six years.

The shop worker said: "This has happened before. Sometimes they come in after school, sometimes on the weekends, we catch some of the children stealing from the shop and they are rude to us.

"I was really upset after it happened.

“I told my parents about it and they said that I should think about finding work somewhere else.

“But I have been here for so many years and this was not a problem until recently.”

A spokesman from Sutton police said it had no record of the abuse, adding: "We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of hate crime to report it and we will investigate it robustly.

"Hate crime is an under-reported crime and should be reported when it occurs."

Greenshaw High School said it had not received a complaint about it pupils but would investigate if it did.

A Poundland spokesman: “We cannot comment on this at the current time but we are looking into the matter.”