Pictured: Frail ‘lovely lady’, 77, who collapsed and died in abject terror while on 999 call as ‘teenage burglars’ broke into her north London home
- Murder squad detectives have launched in investigation following the burglary
- Maureen Whale, 77, collapsed Tuesday afternoon while on the phone to 999
- Two suspects forced their way into the her home in Barnet, north London
- Officers are are trying to link the raid to a string of other burglaries in the area
- Do you know Maureen? Please contact Darren.Boyle@mailonline.co.uk
Maureen Whale, pictured, died after she collapsed during a burglary at her home in Barnet, north London on Tuesday evening
This is the chilling moment a ‘teenage burglary gang’ smashed into a pensioner’s home before she died while reporting their intrusion to the police.
Maureen Whale, 77, was alone at her home in Barnet, north London when the thugs broke into her property.
Fearing for her safety, she desperately called the police but collapsed while on the phone.
Officers said two men forced their way into Mrs Whale’s home while a third kept watch.
The gang stole property from her home including her bag.
One local resident said he used to go out with the former air hostess during school.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘Me and Maureen go way back – we actually used to date in secondary school.
‘She was very shy and private, even back then, but we’d meet up at the farm with a girl she used to go around with back in the day.
‘Maureen was an air hostess – which might seem surprising since she really wasn’t the type – but she was nice and polite and she seemed to enjoy it.
‘I never really saw her in Barnet more recently, apart from when she’d be walking to the supermarket with her shopping trolley.
‘It’s so sad to hear what happened to her though – for such a quiet person to go in that way.’
Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: ‘Our enquiries are well underway but we really need the public’s help.
‘We are aware of moving CCTV footage circulating online – we are working to enhance that footage and will release publicly as soon as we can – but if you recognise those pictured please get in touch.
‘If you live in the area and you have your own CCTV system that may have captured the suspects we urgently need to see it. We are especially interested in anyone who lives in Bells Hill from Trinder Road up to the junction with Lexington Way and the surrounding roads off Bells Hill. Please check and contact us if there is anything at all that raises your suspicions.
‘For anyone who does live in those areas, when you came home that evening from 17:00hrs, did you see any vehicles you didn’t recognise and didn’t belong in the area? One line of enquiry is that the suspects may have had a vehicle to make their escape.
Police have released CCTV images of the three suspects they wish to talk to in connection with Mrs Whale’s death. All three are described as white men in their 20s
Two of the gang forced their way into the house while the third kept watch outside
All three men had their heads covered and are believed to have been involved in other burglaries in the area earlier that night
‘We are appealing generally for anyone who saw anything suspicious in Bells Hill between around 17:00hrs and 18:00hrs in particular on Tuesday to come forward. After the burglary at Miss Whale’s home, the men walked away in the general direction of Lexington Way. I would ask the community in Bells Hill, from Newlands Place to Lexington Way, to check their front gardens and hedges to see if any property has been disposed of.
‘We are also really keen to trace two young white lads, aged around 12 and 15, on bikes loitering in the Bells Hill area at that time. They are thought to be local and approached and spoke to the first officers on the scene. They are potentially really important witnesses and I would urge them to get in touch – if you are nervous about contacting police, speak to a teacher, parent or trusted adult but you are not in any trouble.
Forensic officers continued their investigations today at the home of Maureen Whale, the 77-year-old pensioner who collapsed and later died following a burglary at her home in Barnet
Police, pictured, searched for forensic evidence in an effort to trace the raiders
‘We also know from examining CCTV that at 17:52hrs a small four-door hatchback car drove up Bells Hill towards Lexington Way, with the cemetery on its left. The driver travelled directly past our suspects – and we would urge him or her to come forward. ‘This is an awful incident which has led to the death of a wonderful elderly lady and we really need people to contact us with any piece of information, no matter how small.’
Video footage obtained by The Sun has now revealed the shock moment the group of thugs clambered over the fence to her home and entered her property.
The three suspects are all white men in their 20s.
The first suspect was wearing a black zip-up gillet, white or light coloured long-sleeved top and a black or dark woolly or beanie hat.
The second man had a long-sleeve hooded top with two dark patches on the chest or shoulder and the top of the back. He also had dark trousers and light-coloured trainers.
The final suspect had a dark long-sleeve hooded top or coat. He may have been wearing a baseball cap underneath and had a light, possibly grey, jogging style bottoms and dark or black trainers.
No arrests have been made at this stage but police are asking for the public’s assistance to track down the suspects.
Chief Superintendent Simon Rose from North West Area said: ‘These break-ins and the subsequent death of an elderly woman will no doubt cause concern and alarm to those in the area.
‘Locals can expect to see an increased police presence in the area. We are there to help them and support the local community but need their help also. If you live or were passing through Bells Hill flats in Barnet yesterday evening – did you see anything suspicious? Have you got information that could assist police. We need to hear from you urgently to catch those responsible.’
Neighbours claimed four homes were targeted by a gang of burglars around the same time yesterday in High Barnet as Murder Squad detectives hunt two men in their 20s.
A neighbour said Mrs Whale was ‘frail’ and a ‘lovely lady’, who lived at the small house with pebbledashed walls.
She said: ‘Maureen was targeted because she was so frail, how could they do this to such a lovely lady.’
Another added: ‘That poor woman lived on her own – I didn’t know her but her next door neighbour used to tell me she was vulnerable.’
While another criticised police for allowing it to happen, saying: ‘They are too busy trying to catch people on their phones or arguing online.
‘We want to do something about it but we’d end up in trouble – these sickos went on a rampage.’
White flowers had been left on the front doorstep of the house where a crime scene remains in place.
The investigation into Mrs Whale’s death is being led by the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command
Neighbour Michael Murphy checked his CCTV footage after he saw police officers outside his window and realised something had happened.
Footage from the next-door house revealed three teenagers broke into the flats opposite her detached property before standing in the middle of the road ‘deciding which would be next.’
Neighbour Michael Murphy, 55, who lives with his wife and infant son, said: ‘It was horrific to watch the footage back but more to the point, it made me so angry.
‘Maureen was born in that house and she wouldn’t say boo to a goose – she was a really quiet, lovely lady.
‘But I used to see her in the garden trimming her roses – she loved being out there in the summer.’
Mr Murphy, who runs a nearby car garage, accidentally triggered his house alarm when he arrived home from work at six o’clock and believed he panicked the thieves inside Mrs Whale’s house.
He said: ‘When they left, they were as calm as the breeze and walked up the street.
‘The CCTV showed they stood in the road after coming out of the flats across the road they’d just robbed – as if thinking which house they would do next.
‘Then they knocked on Maureen’s door – she never answers so they climbed over the fence and broke in.
‘When I got home, I saw two kids on bicycles out the front – thinking back, it doesn’t take a rocket science to know they were the lookouts.
‘Thank God my wife and my ten-most nth-old son were not home.’
The house across the street has also been cordoned off by police, with two officers keeping watch of the property.
Officers are today searching hedges on Bells Hill Barnet looking for evidence connected to Tuesday’s burglary which happened at the time of Mrs Whale’s collapse
Forensic teams have also searched other buildings on Mrs Whale’s street which were targeted by burglars on Tuesday night
The burglary comes less than a month after the fatal attack on WWII veteran Peter Gouldstone, 98, who was beaten by raiders who stole his 26-inch Panasonic television set
Mr Gouldstone lost his life following the attack at his home in Bounds Green, pictured
This burglary is a month after 98-year-old World War II veteran Peter Gouldstone was attacked at his home in Bounds Green, north east London.
Raiders beat Mr Gouldstone on November 6 while stealing his 26-inch Panasonic television.
He died in the early hours of Friday, November 30.
More than half of all UK burglaries happen when someone is at home
More than half of domestic burglaries in the UK happen when someone is at home, according to shocking new research.
In a survey of 1,002 people who have been burgled, researchers questioned the impact the crime has had on the victim’s family and well-being.
Almost 87 per cent of victims said the crime had significantly affected their household with 17 per cent admitting they moved home as a result of the burglary.
The research, conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of smart security company Verisure, found that 31 per cent of those hit said their home no longer felt the same.
Horacio Perez, Operations Director of Verisure UK said: ‘About half of the people surveyed have been burgled within the last year, and a surprising 49 per cent said that they had no major security deterrents installed in their homes when the incident occurred.
‘You can’t put a price on peace of mind when you consider that parents are 63 per cent more likely to feel unsafe after a burglary compared to those who don’t have children and that over 70 per cent of children have been negatively impacted emotionally by the burglary.’
Barbara Oakley, operations manager of Victim Support said: ‘Burglary not only robs victims of their physical possessions – it can also rob people of their sense of security at home, a place where everyone should feel safe. The impact can last not only for a few days, but months after the burglary has taken place.
‘Every year burglary affects over 435,000 households across England and Wales and, even if nothing is stolen, most people feel anxious and less secure in their home afterwards.
‘Burglary affects the whole family. Victim Support can provide free, practical and emotional support to everyone affected, including children.’
The research was conducted between November 9-16.
Half of the 1,002 victims had children under the age of 18.
- Anyone who has been hit by burglary can contact Victim Support on a free 24/7 helpline 0808 16 89 111 or online.
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