Detectives investigating the death of an elderly woman following a burglary at her home have named her as 77-year-old Maureen Whale as they continue to appeal for help and information.
Officers are keen to speak to anyone who saw three suspects in the area around the time of the burglary in Bells Hill, Barnet, as well as trace specific witnesses.
Police were called at 18:01hrs on Tuesday, 4 December 2018 to reports of a burglary at Miss Whale’s home.
She called police after two men gained entry to her home while a third kept look-out. The suspects stole property, including, it is believed, her bag. Images have been released today of these three men.
While on the telephone to the police operator Miss Whale, who lived alone, collapsed.
Police and London Ambulance Service attended. Emergency first aid was given by attending officers.
Miss Whale was taken to a north London hospital in a critical condition where she died on the morning of Wednesday, 5 December.
Her next of kin have been informed. A post-mortem examination will be held in due course.
A crime scene is in place and enquiries are underway to establish if the burglary is linked to other similar offences in the area.
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.
“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.
“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.”
The suspects are described as white men in their 20s.
Suspect 1 was wearing a black zip-up gillet, a white or light coloured long-sleeved top underneath and a black or dark coloured woolly or beanie hat.
Suspect 2 wore a hooded long-sleeved top with two dark patches on the chest/shoulder and the top of the back, dark trousers and light-coloured trainers.
Suspect 3 was wearing a dark long-sleeved hooded top or coat. The hood was up and it’s thought the suspect may have worn a baseball cap underneath. He also wore light, possibly grey, jogging style bottoms and dark or black trainers.
There have been no arrests at this stage. Increased police patrols continue in the local area.
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."
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 https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-anonymously or tweet @MetCC