A cold war has broken out on Hounslow High Street after a well-known ice-cream man was forced off his patch.
Laurence Vella - or Lorenzo as customers know him - and his family have dished out 99s and Cornettos to shoppers from their van for nearly half a century.
But the dad-of-four has been doing so without the required street trading licence since 2003 and bosses at Hounslow Council want him out as they believe he attacts pickpockets.
In December, they refused him and his 29-year-old brother Oliver permission to trade on the High Street following complaints by police but Mr Vella, of Munster Road, Teddington, defied the ban and continues to trade at the corner of the High Street and Holloway Street.
He has collected signatures from more than 4,000 customers on a petition demanding he be allowed to stay put.
Last Monday, the 51-year-old claims two officers handcuffed him in front of startled shoppers and dragged him off for questioning, only to release him without charge.
"I've been selling ice cream on the High Street since I was 12," Mr Vella told the Chronicle.
"I used to help my dad, George, before he had to give up after having a stroke and becoming paralysed.
"The High Street's full of stalls selling fruit 'n' veg or jewellery, most of which have been around for a much shorter time than we have.
"It's ridiculous to say I attract pick-pockets. I've got a black belt in akido and if anyone tried to rob one of my customers I'd jump out and grab them."