Burglars who left a 102-year-old woman hospitalised have been condemned as “despicable” by her family.

Conmen tricked their way into Daisy Horne’s home in North Finchley by posing as inspectors from the water board.

They ransacked the house but did not take anything, and although the great-great-grandmother was not injured, she was left severely shaken. She left hospital on Tuesday, almost three weeks after the burglary on February 26.

Her grandson Chris Ralfe, 57, of Rickmansworth, said his grandmother has lived on her own since her husband died about 25 years ago, and is still suffering from shock following the break-in.

“She is almost completely blind so she wasn’t sure what was going on,” he said. “She called me and said ‘I think I have let people in that I shouldn’t have done’.

“The whole family are doing what they can for her, but she is fiercely independent and only needs carers for about half-an-hour a day.

“She is not physically strong, but she has remained very mentally strong. Anyone else would not have coped with it.”

The incident was the latest in a string of bogus-caller burglaries, in which burglars pose as water board, council or police officials to trick their way into the homes of elderly or vulnerable people.

Mr Ralfe said this sort of crime is a real danger for anyone living on their own and is disgusted it happened to someone as defenceless as his grandmother.

“It could happen to any of us, but it is particularly despicable when the men are preying on vulnerable old people,” he said. “It does make us very angry that these cowards can carry out this type of crime. She doesn’t remember much. She is trying not to think too much about it, so we are not bringing it up.”

He praised the work of the police officers involved, and is confident the men will be caught.

“The police have been marvellous with her,” he said.

“They hate this sort of crime and are pursuing it to great lengths, which is reassuring.

“The people involved will eventually be caught and if they keep doing this I am sure the courts will come down on them hard.”

Detective Inspector Neil Rawlinson, of Barnet police, said: “This was a sickening attack on a very vulnerable and elderly lady which left her ill in hospital. I plead with anyone who saw this to come forward with information.

“Please also let us know if you have been cold-called over the past few weeks. Barnet police are working hard to tackle these crimes but need all the intelligence available to us in order to bring to justice the criminals carrying out these burglaries.”

Witnesses to the burglary or anyone with information can call Detective Sergeant Dan Quigley or Detective Constable Michelle Chalraft on 020 8733 5854 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.