The tragic final words of a pensioner who died the day after three men broke into her home have been released by police.
Maureen Whale, 77, called 999 to report the burglary, and told an operator she was shaking.
She died from stress the day after the men stole jewellery and “a few pounds” from her purse.
Detectives are treating the death as manslaughter and offering £20,000 for information on three suspects.
The former air hostess was in her front room when the men entered from the back of the house in Barnet, north London, before Christmas.
Maureen, who had worked as a nurse, air hostess, medical secretary and librarian, had lived in the ‘little cottage’ – described as ‘her world’ – her entire life.
She made a call to 999 on December 4, where she said that ‘two young men went into the house for my handbag’.
She was rushed to hospital in a critical condition after the burglary just after 6pm – but died the following day.
The tragic recording came just seconds after the burglary, with Miss Whale giving her age and address to police operators
She said: “I’ve just been burgled. They walked off with my handbag. It happened two minutes ago. I’m shaking, I’m sorry.”
A third man was keeping watch outside the cottage-style house. All three of the suspects were caught on CCTV cameras.
The operator begged to keep the pensioner on the phone as police rushed to the address, but she died the following day.
A post-mortem gave the cause of death as coronary heart disease, and identified that it was due to the stress of the burglary.
Her niece Gina said: “Our aunt was a fiercely independent woman who should have been safe in the home she had lived in all of her life.
“No-one deserves to die in this way and we urge anyone who can help bring these men to justice to come forward and assist police with their investigation.
“Hearing the last phone call made by my aunt is extremely distressing but we hope that by releasing this to the public someone, somewhere will be moved to come forward with information.”
Burglars wore baseball caps, beanies and hoods when they entered Miss Whale’s home and stole her rings, a Pandora ring, plus a Tiffany necklace and bracelet.
Cops said a ‘Meghan Markle’ wedding-style ring’ was as a ‘unique’ piece – which was part of a haul which included her handbag, $900 and £30 in Turkish lira.
The burglary is linked to two at properties on the same road in Barnet – with the houses robbed just hours before miss Whale.
Police are also seeking a driver of a small four-door hatchback car, which travelled up Bells Hill towards Lexington Way at 6.52pm.
Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, who is leading the investigation, said: “Maureen died for the few pounds that were in her purse.
“It is so wrong that a woman who was so adventurous travelling the world in her younger days should die in such awful circumstances, for just a few pounds, in her own home.
“Someone will recognise these burglars from CCTV or from a change in their behaviour and I am appealing to the families and partners of these individuals to help Maureen’s family get the justice they deserve.
“For anyone teetering on whether to make that call, just listen to the distressing 999 call that Maureen made. Just imagine it could have been your mum or nan – burglary is a horrid crime, but what happened to Maureen is utterly wicked.
“In December we found Maureen’s bag in a hedge on the outskirts of Ravenscroft Park and we are continuing to ask anyone who may have seen or been given the items stolen in the other burglaries on the same night to get in touch.”