Cops hunt 'opportunistic thieves' who broke into OAP's home after she died calling 999 – as it's revealed string of raids on same day

Maureen Whale, 77, collapsed as she frantically told the operator how the thieves scaled her garden fence before smashing their way though a side door.

One the "opportunistic thieves" scaled Maureen Whale's side fence and opened the gate to let two other youngsters in, before smashing through a side door on December 4.

Cops and paramedics rushed to the scene but she passed away in hospital the following morning.

Met Police detectives today released images of jewellery – including a Tiffany necklace – that was nicked in a series of break-ins around Maureen's home.

Two other homes were burgled by the suspects around Maureen's home, as well as a third on Sampson Avenue, Barnet the same day.

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Today we have released images of jewellery stolen from properties in Bells Hill that night. We believe the same group of opportunist thieves targeted these addresses – as well as one in Sampson Avenue – before making their way into Miss Whale’s home.

“I would appeal to any pawnbrokers or indeed any ‘handlers’ of stolen goods to consider the awful circumstances of what has happened to a wonderful elderly lady and do the right thing and come forward with any information.

“Around £30 worth of Turkish Lira and about £100 of Euros were also stolen from those homes in Bells Hill as well as American dollars from the Sampson Avenue address – if you work in a bureau de change and someone has asked you to change those foreign currencies into sterling in the last few days we also want to hear from you.”

Two more properties on the same road as Maureen's house were burgled on December 4, plus an address in Samson Avenue in Barnet.

Around £200 to £300 was stolen from the Sampson Avenue home.

Descriptions of the three suspects have been released, with the first climbing over the outside gate. He was wearing a black zip through gillet over a light coloured long sleeved top. He also wore a dark coloured woollen hat/beanie.

The second suspect also entered the house and was wearing a long sleeved top with dark patches.

Police believe the third suspect acted as a lookout at the window, and wore a dark hoodie, as well as a baseball cap.

DCI McHugh added: “We still urgently need help from the public. Do you live in and around Bells Hill and saw anything suspicious from 17:00hrs on Tuesday?

“Did you see any vehicles you didn’t recognise that didn’t belong in Bells Hill, from Trinder Road up to the junction with Lexington Way, and the surrounding roads off Bells Hill?

“Do you have your own CCTV, dash cam or mobile phone footage from the area?

“If you live in Bells Hill between Newlands Place and Lexington Way, please check your front gardens and hedges in case the suspects disposed of any property.

ELDERLY UNDER ATTACK: Police continue investigation into OAP death after burglary

POLICE are continuing to investigate the tragic death of an elderly man who died after being battered by thieves at his home.

Peter Gouldstone, 98, suffered fatal injuries after being dragged from his home of more than 60 years in Arnos Grove, North London.

Burglars ransacked his home but escaped with just a few personal possessions and a black Panasonic TV.

The dad of two was found the next morning by his son Simon, 67.

He and sister Jane, 60, kept a vigil by his hospital bedside before Peter died on Friday.

The attack caused outrage and prompted The Sun to set up a JustGiving ap­peal.

So far, no arrests have been made.

“Are you one of two young white lads, aged around 12 and 15, on bikes in the Bells Hill area at that time? The boys are thought to be local – they 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.

“Were you driving a small four-door hatchback car at 17:52hrs up Bells Hill towards Lexington Way, with the cemetery on your left? The car may have been a Skoda Fabia and the driver travelled directly past our suspects.

“If you can help at all please contact us urgently or to remain anonymous speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers.”

It comes as neighbours paid tribute to Maureen, who had lived at the home since 1928.

She was described as "fiercely independent", having worked in a variety of jobs including as a medical secretary, nurse, librarian and air stewardess.

The classic music lover also had a passion for gardening and art.

Born 13 December 1940, it would have been her birthday next week.

Micheal Murphy, 55, said: "Maureen was born in that house and she wouldn't say boo to a goose – she was a really quiet, lovely lady."

Her next of kin have been informed. A post-mortem examination will be held in due course.

There have been no arrests.

Police have increased patrols around the area in response.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police incident room on 0208 785 8099 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can visit or tweet @MetCC

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