The family of a pensioner who died ‘of shock’ after burglars raided her home have made an emotional plea for information as police released the last photograph of her shopping before the break-in.
Maureen Whale, 77, was alone at her home in Barnet, north London when two thugs broke into her property, where she had lived since her birth in 1940.
Fearing for her safety, the Blitz survivor and spinster desperately called the police but collapsed while on the phone.
A post-mortem examination on Friday at Northwick Park Hospital gave the cause of death as coronary heart disease – death brought on by the stress.
Police officers have released an image of Maureen Whale using her small brown wallet to pay for items during a shopping trip earlier in the day
Officers investigating the death of Mrs Whale (left) have also issued a CCTV image of two boys on bikes (right) that detectives are keen to speak to as part of the investigation
Police officers, who are now treating the death as manslaughter, have released an image of Mrs Whale using her small brown wallet to pay for items during a shopping trip earlier in the day.
They have also issued a CCTV image of two boys on bikes that detectives are keen to speak to as part of the investigation.
Mrs Whale’s only relatives, her nephew Lawrence and niece Gina, released a statement in which they told of the family’s grief at Mrs Whale’s death.
‘It is heart-breaking that our Aunt Maureen is no longer with us; this last week has felt like a nightmare.
‘She should have been safe in the house that she lived in all her life and we now ask how this could of happened?
‘The last thing she or anybody else would have ever expected, is for burglars to break in while she was at home.
These rings were also stolen during the raid last Tuesday evening. The ring pictured on the left is a near-match of Meghan Markle’s engagement ring
‘This must have been a truly terrifying ordeal for her. All we think about now, is of how vulnerable and scared she must of felt.’
‘We pay tribute to the police, ambulance and hospital staff who fought so hard to keep our Aunt Maureen with us and we are especially grateful to the 999 operator who showed such compassion and reassurance; no one will ever know how hard you all work. Thank you all for trying to save her life.
The three wanted men
Suspect One: Was wearing a black zip through gillet over a light coloured long sleeved top. He also wore a dark coloured woollen hat/beanie.
Suspect Two: Entered the house in a long sleeved top with dark patches. He wore a hood up [possibly fur trim on hood] with dark trousers and light coloured trainers.
Suspect Three: Acted as a look out at the window. He was dressed in a long sleeved, dark coloured hooded top/jacket. He wore a baseball cap underneath the hood of his jacket, light coloured jogging bottoms and dark trainers.
‘Our Aunt Maureen should still be with us and she should have celebrated her 78th birthday this week on Thursday.
‘She was a private, independent woman who was extremely proud and didn’t deserve to die in this way. We urge people to come forward with any information.
‘The police need the names of those responsible. This is a terrible crime to occur to any person. As a family, we hope justice will be served.’
Stunned Mrs Whale, who is thought to have been confronted by the theives, collapsed as she called 999.
It is thought the break-in which led to her death was one of at least three carried out in the space of just few hours by the gang, who are now being hunted by police.
The burglars – both believed to be in their 20s – wore baseball caps, beanies and hoods when they entered Miss Whale’s home and stole her jewellery, including a Pandora ring, a Tiffany necklace and a bracelet.
Police said one of the rings taken was a ‘unique’ piece, but her ‘really old’ TV was of no interest to the thieves.
Mrs Whale collapsed while on a 999 call after a gang of three thugs forced their way into her £400,000 detached house, where she had lived her whole life
Police are hoping the drivers of cars which drover down the road may have seen the gang
The group are thought to have raided other homes in the area on Tuesday afternoon, before climbing a fence and entering Miss Whale’s home.
During the other break-ins, the gang also made off with 900 US dollars and £30 in Turkish lira, thought to be from previous holidays.
Detective chief inspector Noel McHugh said: ‘Everything we have heard indicates that Miss Whale was a wonderful lady and she had everything to live for.
‘She had every right to feel safe in her home – the place she was born and lived for 77 years.
‘I am in no doubt that the burglars knew that there was a lone female in the address.
‘Criminals will have been talking about this wicked crime and now is the time to break the criminal code of “not snitching” and offer these burglars up.
And when you are contemplating whether to make that call, think of how frightened Maureen would have been, how you would feel if that was you’re your mum or nan.
Police forensics officers (shown at the house) were seen working at the property late last week