A plot to burgle the home of late entertainer Cilla Black has been foiled, her eldest son Robert Willis said in a statement.
Robert said today: “I cannot believe someone would stoop so low at a time like this. It’s inconceivable. Thankfully it was discovered in time.”
Black's three sons, Ben, Robert and Jack, were attending her the inquest into her death today.
Robert, Jack and Ben Willis arrive for the opening of their mother's death inquest
A statement released by her former publicist Nick Fiveash added: “A plot to burgle the Buckinghamshire home of the late Cilla Black has been foiled today.
“A professionally-cut circular hole was discovered in the perimeter fence of her Denham home ahead of her funeral on Thursday August 20.
“The police were immediately informed, 24-hour security has been increased on the property and all valuable assets including art, jewellery and her personal items have been removed and taken to a secured unit at an unknown location.
“It looks as if they have been preparing to burgle the house during the funeral.
“The hole in the chain link fence was cut in a very secluded place and it was not there before.
“It’s a difficult time, today was the inquest and next will be the funeral.
“Her sons have been really brave and dignified and are carrying on for their mum.”
Liverpool-born Cilla Black died from a "traumatic" head injury following a fall at her home in Spain, a Liverpool Coroner's Court heard.
Andre Rebello recorded the official verdict of accidental death at the 15-minute hearing, calling her a "daughter of Liverpool".
Mr Rebello, City of Liverpool coroner, confirmed details of the showbiz star's death at her villa in Spain, on August 1.
He referred to Black using her real name, Priscilla Maria Veronica Willis and in conclusion said the medical cause of death was a traumatic head injury caused by the fall.
Addressing her sons, he added: "She was your mum and her death is a private personal matter and we have all got one mum.
"It is right that you grieve and remember her."
Mr Rebello continued: "Far more important is that you celebrate her life, but your mum was far more than just your mum.
"She was a daughter of Liverpool and she was a celebrity and loved by all in Liverpool and that will be part of her abiding memory and memorial.
"But you will have personal, private memories of her as mum.
"It is those memories of the ordinary things she did, normal family events, the love shared and the love given, that must be her abiding memory, not just for this generation, but for each born in the future."
Earlier, Mr Rebello confirmed details of the circumstances of Black's death following the investigation by medical and legal authorities in Spain.
He said Black was born in Liverpool on May 27, 1943, her maiden name was White and she died at her home having been found by one of her sons, on August 1 at her villa in Estepona on the Costa del Sol.
Mr Rebello said: "I understand Mrs Willis was discovered by her son Robert at 5.30pm on August 1, this year.
"She was on the terrace leading from her bedroom at her home.
"She had fallen and she had struck her head, and this traumatic head injury which had ensued had resulted in her death.
"She was certified as having died by the paramedic at 6.10pm on August first. The fall itself was un-witnessed."
Mr Rebello, formally recording the inquest verdict and legally releasing her body for burial, added: "The thrust of the evidence clearly points to only one conclusion, she died from accidental death.
"She was a singer and widow of Robert Willis, a manager."
Black's sons left without commenting to reporters after the hearing finished. Their father, Bobby Willis died in 1999.
Her funeral will take place in Liverpool next Thursday at St Mary's Church, Woolton. She will then be laid to rest in a private ceremony at Allerton Cemetery alongside her parents.
Mourners in Liverpool are expected to give a fitting send off for the popular TV presenter and former pop star, who always held her home town in great affection.
She made a posthumous comeback to the UK music charts last week with her compilation album The Very Best Of, testament to her enduring appeal since first bursting into stardom during the Merseybeat era of the 1960s.