Neighbours of a 90-year-old woman who died after watching raiders ransack her home have told of their shock and fear.
Retired headteacher Hester Mottershead, from Wolverhampton, suffered a suspected stroke when fake water officials rifled through her belongings on Friday afternoon.
Detectives said they were treating her death as murder and were looking for three men in their late teens or early 20s.
A neighbour said: “This has shocked everyone. This used to be a lovely, quiet neighbourhood but lately there have been more burglaries and now this.
“We are frightened to open our door to anyone now in case the gang comes back.”
The neighbour said Ms Mottershead shared her detached home in Saxonfields, Tettenhall, with her late sister, who died around three years ago.
“I don’t think she’d ever married and after her sister died she didn’t go out much and was very quiet,” he said.
Another resident said Ms Mottershead used to be in charge at Wolverhampton Girls’ High School and was the last head of Bilston Girls’ High School before it closed.
“She had lived there for about ten years and was very respected,” he said.
“I went to church yesterday and people were saying she used to teach them and how shocked they were.”
Ms Mottershead’s home was yesterday sealed off by a police cordon.
A blue tent had been erected on the pavement by the West Midlands force and a single bunch of flowers had also been left in tribute, while her family was being supported by liaison officers.
The raiders were said to have spent at least half-an-hour in her home but it was not known whether anything was stolen.
Detectives said the wanted men all wore blue clothes which were possibly work overalls.
Det Insp Andy Hawkins, in charge of the investigation, said: “We believe the offenders searched the whole house, which would have taken at least half an hour.
“We are appealing for anyone who may have seen three people acting suspiciously to contact us with information.”
Officers also urged residents to use door chains or check the identity of callers through windows before answering the door to fend off doorstep crooks.
Det Insp Hawkins said: “Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs. Beware of one distracting you while the other steals your property.
“If you have any suspicions at all, don’t let them in.
“If you’re still not happy, phone the police and tell them and your neighbours what’s happened.”